Our Opinion: Bullying in Bellefonte– a hidden problem

Ruby Bjalme, Staff Reporter

As students flood daily into a school that stands for respecting all individuals that demonstrate excellence along with responsibility and safety, as stated in the Raider motto, the question rests if the Bellefonte Area School District’s environment is excelling at these expectations, or falling short.

With the start of the 2022-2023 school year, students have been back in the building mixing with all groups and grade levels, which results in different personalities and opinions circulating all in one area. Our school’s handbook states they “do not tolerate known acts of harassment or bullying”, but have they done enough to prove that statement?

Bullying within Bellefonte has not been a prominent issue, but does not hide the fact that it does not occur. Senior Affina Garvin weighs in her experience with bullying within Bellefonte.

 “At a football game, someone took a picture of me to laugh at me personally because I have colored hair,” she said.

Jenna McCaslin also shared her experience with bullying in Bellefonte and how both students and teachers responded.

“The students around me didn’t really care much. They would laugh even. The teachers couldn’t care less. Some even join in on the laughing, it is truly that bad,” she said.

Within these small comments or gestures, most bullying goes without notice and often teachers are unable to recognize and help a situation. Most times students fail to recognize bullying and that can demonstrate how teachers do not either. With these subtle situations, is it enough to say there is a problem in Bellefonte? Senior Eva Guenther thinks there is. 

“As for whether Bellefonte has a problem with bullying it definitely does. I would say I get bullied or harassed in various ways at least 2-3 times a day. Whether it be something that would be considered less severe like being barked at or just rude comments, all the way to being called slurs and having awful things said about you or the community you’re in, from not only students but also from parents and adults at board meetings,” they said.  

With the availability of improvement, we should sit and ask ourselves, what is causing this bullying? Bellefonte High School promises to protect and encourage student well-being, but has fallen short standing up for those who are judged for being themselves. 

“The main cause of bullying in Bellefonte is bigotry and ignorance. Many people see others who are different from what they are and find them weird or freakish.There are many people just like me who chose to express themselves in a different manner than what is considered ‘normal’ here and are judged for it,” Affina said.

All in all, students affected by these small instances add to something larger. Students feel lost and silenced. If you or a friend has been bullied you can email any of the Bellefonte High School guidance counselors or turn to a trusting teacher. Together, we can recognize harmful actions and work to build a more positive environment for all students.