Ismail Abdus-Salaam: I dragged someone while they were crying. That was awful. The kid already got bullied by everyone else already. And I just joined in and just helped bullying like I can take it further.
Gary: Ismail Abdus-Salaam has been both the bully and the victim. His first experience with bullying started at home when he was younger. He was playfully teased by his older siblings.
Ismail: So, it started there and being young and not knowing better, I took it to heart — not as playful banter.
Gary: And although that was years ago, the effect is still present.
Ismail: Can we not go there? It’s deep. That’s a lot.
Gary: Ismail began bullying kids from about second grade to sixth grade, after he was bullied by a classmate.
Ismail: One day, I got sick of it and I punched him really hard. That’s when I realized I can fight back, and I don’t have to sit here and take it. And I took it overboard. I’d bully people because I felt like I was making up for being bullied. It sort of made me feel better, but it left me feeling empty.
Gary: Dr. Chuck Williams, director of of the Center for Prevention of School-aged Violence at Drexel University, says bullies pick on others because they feel like they are missing something in their lives. But there are also other reasons.
Dr. Chuck Williams: With boys, it’s maybe they were bullied. So, it’s learned behavior. Someone they know did it to them, so they’re going to do it to someone else. With girls, it’s like relational aggression. They like to name call, they want to make you feel small. But they don’t want to do it to your face. But they’ll talk about them behind they’re back, put it up on Facebook, Twitter, you know, cyber bulling.
Gary: According to a recent Associated Press/MTV poll, more than half of the young people surveyed said they had experienced some type of cyber bullying. And earlier this month, CNN released a poll showing that students will also bully each other in hopes of becoming more popular. More than half of the students polled said they were a bully, a victim or both.
Student: I’ve witnessed bad bullying to the point where the girl ran into the street and tried to kill herself, tried to get hit by a car. And that was this year.
Gary: Carissa McCann was bullied herself in seventh grade.
Carissa McCann: Well, I was a new student, so that was a bull’s eye. I was overweight.
Gary: One day at school after an earlier incident, things got out of hand.
Carissa: So after school, it was like a big crowd. It was, like, the whole sixth, seventh and eighth grade that I knew of. And they were like, ‘we want you!’ And it just escalated from there. I and my brother got jumped in the school yard.
Gary: Experts say bullies get power by seeking out students who may seem unpopular, and also by having an audience.
“Bystanders are people who may not be bullying, but they’re standing there watching. They’re giving the bully an audience. Let me be very clear: if you’re a bystander and you’re watching bullying take place, then you’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.
Gary: Dr. Chuck says there are ways to fight back against bullying without actually fighting.
Dr. Chuck: The easiest thing that a victim can do is to stand up for themselves and say, ‘I don’t like this. This is wrong. I want you to stop now. But if not, I’m going to a teacher, counselor, principal, parent. I’d rather we didn’t have to because I’m talking to you one-on-one.’
Gary: And if you are a bully, it is not too late to stop.
Dr. Chuck: Talk to someone — an older adult that you trust — and say, ‘You know what? I’m doing these things. I feel bad about it. Can you help me change my behavior?’
Ismail: No one wants to be picked on. You treat others how you want to be treated. It’s the golden rule.
Gary: Eventually, Ismail realized bullying wasn’t cool and stopped it. But if he ever saw any of the students he used to bully, he would tell them…
Ismail: I’m sorry. I think I was lost and didn’t know. Forgive me.
Gary: Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.