Bullying at MVHS: How can we fight bullying at MVHS?

Neha Ramchandani

Senior Simone Becker sits cross-legged, listening to a humorous story from a fellow student. At the latest Peer Counseling meeting, the members of the club decided to play some coloring games as a way to develop friendships and relieve stress. Photo by Colin Ni.

Senior Simone Becker sits cross-legged, listening to a humorous story from a fellow student. At the latest Peer Counseling meeting, the members of the club decided to play some coloring games as a way to develop friendships and relieve stress. Photo by Colin Ni.

[faq title=”Q&A with Simone Becker”] [faq_question]What do you think bullying looks like at MVHS?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]At MVHS, it takes the shape of mainly academic bullying. So basically the idea that, when someone gets a test it’s not necessarily private, because students feel like they have the right to ask what you get, when really that is the student’s personal business. And often, if a student gets a score that is lower or higher than what the people asking want to hear, then they can often academically harass them.[/faq_answer] [faq_question]What kind of victims do bullies target at MVHS? Is there a certain trend?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]There’s the people who do exceptionally well, so students will make kids feel really bad for doing well. [The students that do well] feel ashamed to talk about their pride for themselves because they’re worried that they are going to be judged. Then there are the students who don’t do well, and I think they often feel so completely alone. I mean, when you look at it, MVHS is so academic that it’s hard for different kinds of learners to be accepted. It’s hard to find the resources for students to feel that they’re not alone even if they aren’t doing well in a class. That culture that you need to do well on tests [and let] those numbers define you is so dominant here. And I think when students misunderstand that, then [the culture itself] can be turned into bullying.[/faq_answer] [faq_question]How would you distinguish bullying from peer pressure?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]I think peer pressure can almost be supportive if it’s done correctly. It can almost provide a community and encourage people to do better because they have the pressure … of their peers, like study groups … tutorials and things like that [which] all encourage. I think [it is] being successful in a way that is safe, but again, as soon as a student gets harassed because of a grade or get[s] defined by their grade, then that’s bullying.[/faq_answer] [faq_question]How does the Peer Counseling Club play a part in helping victims of bullying?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]My goal [for Peer Counseling] was to create a community that is compassionate and really helps, and serves as a support system for the student body. We have students who are trained to be peer counselors. Students can request to see a peer counselor [on the blue sheet] in the counselor’s office. So that is officially on there; we are officially approved by the school. Students here, again, are very proud and not necessarily willing to say that they need help. But that option is there, and we are trying to make it known that we exist.[/faq_answer] [faq_question]Do you think people reach out for help if they feel bullied in any way? If not, what prevents them?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]The resources are available, but I think it’s an issue of pride. I mean are you really willing to admit to yourself that you need help? Unless you are willing to self advocate, you’re not going to be able to find the resources you need. And self advocacy is scary. It’s like saying, “I am not okay. I know that I’m not at the same standards as everyone else right now, and I need help.” People are scared to be that vulnerable.[/faq_answer] [faq_question]What do you think that bystanders can do to help stop the bullying?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]If you are brave enough, stand up for what you believe in. Go tell an adult. Bring them in the counselors’ office, or tell them what you see and what you feel needs to be changed. Sometimes it’s just supporting what you believe in, even if it’s difficult.[/faq_answer] [faq_question]What resources do you know of that are available to students on campus?[/faq_question] [faq_answer]The counselors are phenomenal and [Peer Counseling adviser and Student Advocate Richard] Prinz is amazing. There is Peer Counseling and Verdadera. I think Leadership is working to be more supportive toward the school community as well. I just think in the past couple of years, there has been a huge student advocacy for support on campus so it’s been developed [and now] there are a variety of [resources]. You just have to be willing to go for it.[/faq_answer] [/faq]