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Phelan: Working together can help overcome bullying issue

I’m excited for college next year. Although the process is lengthy and moving away from home is scary, I’m still excited.

I’ll be starting my future and finally getting to eat Chipotle at 3 a.m. But, also, I’m excited to leave high school. Yes, I have good friends, good teachers and some good memories, but mainly, high school isn’t the best time ever. It’s a bad mix of homework and hormones, taking the bus and Twitter fights. But there’s one aspect of high school that can make it just miserable for anyone and everyone: bullying.

My school’s handbook offers a detailed explanation of actions it will not tolerate and reasons people will not be discriminated against.

Merriam-Webster defines bullying as a person who is habitually mean to others who are weaker. I don’t agree with this definition. I think a bully is a person whose own insecurities about themselves allow fear to turn into hatred and cruelty.

So, how has my school responded to the pain bullying can cause? It intervenes well when informed of individual and worst-case scenarios, but prevention is key.

For prevention, I’ve attended assemblies run by strangers for the past three years. In one I was screamed at and told that by having friends and having a good time, I was singling out others. In others, we’ve simply watched videos or re-enactments. And this year, a new anti-bullying “campaign” has been started; people have posted papers around the school explaining what bullying is and why we shouldn’t do it.

When I inquired about the posters, one student asked, “What posters?” One senior, Taylor Selesky, responded that they were going to be ineffective and not stop bullying.

So, what works? To me, I think it’s been my parents raising me well enough to know that I don’t need to put others down, and to not let what people say or do hurt me too much. My parents staying involved in my school life has made a huge impact, and I wish more students’ parents simply asked about their day.

I’ve also had some really good teachers over the years who have sat down and talked honestly about tough subjects, bullying included. A teacher I care about telling me about her experiences in school is easier to relate to than watching a video made by people I don’t know in an overcrowded classroom.

Making sure to keep discussion open is another must. Let us actually talk and listen to each other.

Bullying is a problem, but by working together and getting to the source of the issue, I think it’s one that can be fixed.

• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at

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