The First Amendment and Bullying
The First Amendment protects Freedom of Speech, but not all speech is protected by the Constitution. You can’t just say whatever you want in certain circumstances, and one of those certain circumstances is bullying. When speech is used to harass or bully someone, it is not protected by the law.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Words can cut deeper than a knife?” It's clear that we always have a choice with our words, and we can affect others with language selected to build someone up or tear him or her down.
A bully is intent on hurting others, and may, ironically, also want to be liked by their peers. They may want to show how “cool” they are and not care about the negative impact. But often, in another instance of irony, they may have been hurt, bullied or abused.
And what about bystanders? They may just watch as the bully abuses the victim either physically, verbally, or emotionally. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” To state it plainly, if you turn and look the other way when someone is being bullied, you can be considered complicit in the act of bullying. We all know how difficult it is to be an “upstander” instead of a bystander; however, Dr. King’s words can guide us in making ethical decisions that contribute to a safe and positive environment here at South. We can choose to be the person who provides a shoulder for someone to lean on.
To those who are being bullied - I would like to offer some words of support. Don’t change for anyone. Be the person you want to be. You define who you are. People can make fun of you all they want. They may only see you for your looks and exterior attitude but not your inner personality or feelings. Don’t let bullies bring you down. They don’t know the REAL you. The REAL you is who you define for yourself. Let someone know if you are being bullied; consider telling your parents, your teachers, your counselors, and friends.
Mrs. Solar and Ms. Seery, our student assistance counselors, are here for you. Don’t go it alone, and don’t be afraid to speak up against the bullies. It’s not your fault, and you should not suffer in silence. As you will read on Instagram: “Don’t let anyone bring you down, define who you are or destroy your AWESOMENESS.”
For more information about bullying, you can check out: https://www.stopbullying.gov/