What is bullying? Bullying is when one or more people use strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker than them. Bullying has become something horrifyingly popular in todayís society. Everyone has been bullied or has bullied, whether it was intentional or not.

Usually, bullies have low self-esteem and pick on others to feel powerful, popular, or in control. They often provoke the same students, who are more fragile than themselves. Bullies tend to lower a personís self-worth, which is how the horrific cycle of bullying begins.

Bullies frequently pursue someone who is different, and they take advantage of their differences. They pick on people who they know are incapable of getting even with them. This means they target children who are overweight, wear glasses, or have physical differences like big ears or severe acne. However the differences arenít always physical. Bullies target students who learn at a different pace and are easily frightened or insecure.

Bullies are usually dealing with tough situations at home, such as parents going through a divorce, sickness, or even death in their family. Bullies might not realize how hurtful their actions can be, but know the pain on a personal level because they themselves have been victims of abuse. Some bullies think their behavior is normal because they come from abusive families. They donít know any better and are only repeating what they see at home.

Girls are more likely to cause pain psychologically. They may exclude victims by avoiding them when seated in the lunchroom, ignoring them on the playground, or purposely shunning them when party invitations are being handed out.

Boys aren't discreet and they tend to get physical. For example, boys are quicker to insult their victims on the playground than ignore them. Instead of isolating a non-athletic victim during a gym class, they might take relentless aim and target the student.

There are many different forms of bullying: cyber, emotional, physical, racial, sexual and verbal bullying. A bully in one or all of these categories can victimize anyone. Bystanders need to stop being bystanders and start speaking up against these forms of bullying.

Thereís a website called www.stopabully.ca where targets, bystanders and parents can report bullying. You can click ĎSubmit a Reportí at the top of the page, and itíll give you all the rules and requirements to submit reports. The anonymous report goes straight to the principal of your school, and the issue will be dealt with. If you also go to the left-hand side of the website, you can click on ĎBullying Lettersí and there are personal stories from others who have experienced bullying. They show you that it does get better, and there are so many ways to cope with being bullied, and getting through it.

Laval Liberty is one of many schools who have taken the pledge. This year, when students open their lockers, they see a ĎStop a Bullyí sticker and are reminded that there is a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Every individual is to be treated with respect and the same amount of admiration that is given to their closest friend.

So now, itís time to take that bullís-eye off of you, and put it on the bully. You should not have to be anyoneís victim. You have a right to express your freedom, individuality, and sexuality without anyone teasing you. You are your own person, and if everyone was the same the world would be uninteresting. No matter who you are, you are someone special and no bully should ever tell you otherwise. Itís time to stand up for yourself.

The bullís-eye should be on the bully not on the victim. Bystanders need to take an active role because when they do the bullying is stopped within 10 seconds more than half the time.

If you are a victim of bullying, please talk to a parent, principal, teacher, or other adult to help you. DonĎt stop speaking out until the bullying stops! Donít be afraid, there is tremendous power when the proper authorities are supporting you.

Take the power away from the bully, speak out and you will become powerful!