‘It gets better’ only goes so far

‘It gets better’ only goes so far

The future for teenagers is an extremely elusive and daunting place — a distant dream with college applications, tough course loads and time standing in the way. To us, the future is not real — it’s a place we store unrealistic ambitions, a someday that may or may not come true.

So for us, the promise of “It Gets Better” isn’t all that helpful. Although it can be inspiring to hear the stories of those who have made it through the tortures and pain of bullying, it can be like listening to an Ivy League graduate — we just can’t see ourselves getting there.EdCartoon040512

Depression that ensues from bullying is not simply a storm that will eventually pass — it can become a mental illness, a cell in which people become trapped.

A depressed person’s brain actually functions differently, according to a study from UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Certain regions are more connected than a normal brain. In this way, it affects the organ as a whole, and reduces flexibility and its ability to function.

Simply being told repeatedly “It gets better” is a simple solution to a complex problem. Bullying becomes ingrained in the victim’s mind, a tape that constantly repeats itself, beating her down even when no one is around, suppressing her ability to be happy and see hope in the future.

Telling victims of bullying to “tough it out” or what she is experiencing is just a “rite of passage” conveys the idea that there is nothing to do but wait and hope that the name-calling and locker-shoving will someday cease. If the desperation and worthlessness victims are forced to feel is just the way life is, it’s easy to understand why they may believe life just might not be worth living.

It is easy enough for those who have made it through or never experienced bullying to say it gets better. It is up to the person to persevere on her own terms because her situation is personal. Bullying may be an international and especially a nationwide epidemic, but that does not mean we can just lump all the victims in together or address all their issues as one.

We as a national community need to come together to put a stop to the hate. We can’t idly stand by or deny the existence or pertinence of bullying anymore. It has become an endemic to which no one is immune. A no-tolerance policy must be adopted where no child is in any way allowed to elevate themselves at the expense of another. Bullying must be reported and punished with no exceptions.

One catchy slogan cannot save all the victims of bullying.

But we can.

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