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SALT LAKE CITY — Over the past few years, there has been a heightened awareness of bullying and its negative effects. There have been more books written and more documentaries filmed about this difficult problem over the recent past than ever before.
Some counter that despite our increased awareness of bullying, we actually live in a kinder society all around. Steven Pinker, in his book "The Better Angels of Our Nature," proposed that we live more peaceably now than ever before.
According to The New York Times, "Teachers no longer routinely hit students; laws require accommodations for young people with learning disabilities; parents keep watch for teachers' abuse and vice versa; developmental therapists are around every corner."
That doesn't comfort the child being bullied on the playground who ends up crying at home every night, though. One major difference between bullying now compared to bullying of the past is its reach. Girl bullying is more likely to go unseen by school staff and other adults. Boys are more physical, typically, while girls are brutally snide and derisive. It used to be that children could retreat home or to a safe haven and be protected from bullying.
Now, with the accessibility of the Internet and social media sites, kids can be tormented all the time, and as Anderson Cooper recently said, "The cruelty that can come with the strike of a button on a keyboard can hurt just as much as any punch or push in a playground."
Many feel there must be something that can be done to stem bullying — after all, most bullying incidents are observed by one or more bystanders.
In a recent column for the Deseret News, Lois Collins suggests one way this might be accomplished: "I'm convinced if we can teach our kids there's a moral imperative not to bully and to step up and confront it when they see it, bullying will stop. It's a social disease that demands an attentive but inert audience. When that young audience takes a stand, the world is changed one kid at a time."
And to that one kid, it makes all the difference.