Posted at 1 p.m. Nov. 17, 2015

Intimidation needs to be recognized to keep students safe

Encouraging support for perseverance against bullying

A present concern for many people is the chance of getting bullied or hurt physically in a school setting.

Too often, public school settings have become an unsafe place for students. There are school shootings happening more often, rape and sexual-assault statistics are increasing and fights and other bullying situations are taking place frequently. Part of why these things are happening more than they should is because of bystanders.

I can point out many times that I went through a situation where others around me, who I considered friends, would be bystanders and allow the situation to continue. In fact, I’ve had multiple people come to hate me because of rumors.

Why did no one try to stop this? The question lingered in my head many days as I’d attend school with my head down.

I dropped out of two high schools here in Cheyenne. Eventually, I finished my diploma through the Partnership Diploma Program, a high school diploma program at LCCC. Because of this program, I finished my senior year of high school in October 2014. However, I had been bullied by fellow students, teachers and occasionally principals in high school to the point I would not leave the house for anything except work. I had become afraid of society and what people could put me through.

Although the people who hurt me had the main effect on my life, knowing that people were fully aware of the situation and simply stood by has been the part that has stuck with me.

With the world we live in today, it can be a struggle to stand up for anyone or anything. There is a pressure to stay in the background and live average lives despite the many motivating speeches we grew up hearing and reading.

Society has conformed people to be like others. Individuals have become dependent on each other, which means someone typically won’t do something unless a couple others are doing it with them. It creates a world of bystanders.

It may seem like it doesn’t cause a ripple effect and only has impact on the individual, but as time continues, that is not the case. Rape culture is an effect from bystanders. Instead of people simply standing by and doing nothing, they now have grown to the point of blaming the victim. It is an extreme of not taking a stand.

Emilie Buchwald defined rape culture in her book “Transforming a Rape Culture” as “a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women.”

Bill Cosby has become known as a rapist instead of a comedian or an activist. This is because women started speaking up one by one to talk about what Cosby did to them. It has been a highly controversial topic across America, but it continues to bring change. Each woman won’t relent despite the hate they are receiving, but they are also receiving support and love from others who help them keep going.

Even though these women are speaking up and changing the society we live in, they aren’t extraordinary people. Anyone can stand up for what they are passionate about. Society tries to pull action-takers down, but it doesn’t mean that it has to stop you from standing up for what you believe in. As the women speaking up against Cosby demonstrate, don’t let society bring you down when you are standing up for a good cause.

There are many ways someone can help out persons in a physically or psychologically abusive situation that doesn’t involve much physical work. Everyone is a human being, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the best thing a person can do is say the simple words, “I believe you.” Taking a stand for someone starts with simple words and can cause a ripple effect. When one person believes the victim, others will believe too. Eventually, the victim will not be blamed and the predator will know the show’s over.

This theory doesn’t only apply to sexual violence cases but all bullying cases. Once people stop being bystanders or blaming the victim, we may find ourselves feeling safe in public schools again. I still go through hallways at LCCC where I sometimes get called names or get dirty looks from old classmates I attended high school with. I have attended work before when a coworker, who I didn’t even know, came up to me and said cruel things about my past because of past rumors.

Dropping out of two high schools, being afraid to start college and terrified to live life has never been a personal goal or dream of mine, but it has made me who I am. I broke the conformity of society and wouldn’t go back to the person who I was before. It taught me how to truly take a stand for what I believe in and not budge.

Breaking the conformity of society is one of the hardest yet most blessed things a person can do. It gives an individual the power to make a change. Every person who has ever made history took a stand for what they believed in. Rosa Parks broke conformity and accelerated the movement toward racial equality. She, as a black woman, did not give up her seat on the bus stop, even for a white person, which led to her arrest.

Everyone has the power to make history, but often it comes with a hard path. As Robert Frost says in “The Road Not Taken,” “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”