School bullies not just at school; counselor says students using social media

School bullies not just at school; counselor says students using social media

YAKIMA, Wash. -- "Bullies look for certain targets. They look for someone who won't speak up for themselves, who won't fight back," said mental health counselor Jeff Blair.

Blair says if there’s one thing bullies look for in a victim, it’s someone who keeps the fact that they’re getting bullied, to themselves.

In his experience, he says bullying is a problem that’s become prevalent in our schools, now more than ever, especially with social media.

"It’s a lot easier for people to say mean things when there’s not a person in front of them. We see that all the time to where we would say things online, that we would never say in person. It really goes back to the same sort of ideas of parents teaching their kids to be respectful, and that extends to their online experience, as well," said Blair.

Fifteen-year-old Austin Gallagher says he’s no stranger to being bullied.

"I’ve been called weird, before," he said.

And he knows all too well the role social media plays in the everyday life of a teenager. He says people bully others online, and he thinks it's because its much easier for people to hide behind a computer screen or cell phone. At 15 years old, he already realizes the effects of online bullying last longer than you think.

"It's not something that’s just gonna go away. You can constantly see it, which makes it kinda even worse, cause you can keep on going back to it," said Austin.

Austin’s dad tells me bullying isn’t what it was back in his day. He says its evolved, and that’s not a good thing.

"I think it’s definitely gotten worse over time. Just a lot of different technology makes it a lot easier to be bullying people, and not actually seeing the effects," said Douglas Gallagher.

To try to prevent kids from becoming bullies, Blair says it all starts at home, with something as simple as kindness.

"Kindness and respect being taught in the home is really the only way to stop bullying," said Blair.

Being bullied or picked on as a kid, has lasting effects, he says, adding that the major issues a lot of his adult patients are trying to fight through stem from this childhood trauma. So, he emphasizes simply being kind is key.

And that’s something a wise 15-year-old also echoes.

"You should really think before you say something, because you don’t know how it could impact them later on. It could make them feel really bad, so don’t be rude at all. Just treat everyone the way that you'd wanna be treated, and that’s with kindness," said Austin.

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