Bullying is a big problem with today's youth. In the past, when a child got out of school or off of the school bus being picked on was usually over, at least for the day. But with new technology and kids being on the internet afterschool, or through texting, some children just can't get away from harassment.
Wikipedia defines bullying as "an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally."
According to the government website, there are several indications that your child may be being bullied:
- comes home with damaged or missing clothing, or other personal items
- unexplained injuries
- frequent headaches, stomach-ache, or feeling sick
- trouble sleep, or frequent bad dreams
- changes in eating habits
- hurts themselves
- very hungry after school
- runs away from home
- loses interest in friends
- afraid to go to school or other activities
- loses interest in school work, grades drop
- sad, anxious, or depressed
- suicidal or feeling helpless
- feels not good enough, blames self
- fewer friends
- acts different than usual
There are also indications that your child may be a bully:
- becomes violent with others, physically or verbally
- often sent to principal's office or detention
- extra money or new items with no explanation
- quick to blame others
- doesn't accept responsibility for their actions
- has friends who bully others
- the need to win or be the best at everything
Bullying usually takes place in front of a group of students. If no one speaks up or challenges the bully, then it just becomes a normal event. It can create even more fear in the victim because it 'appears' that the bully has the support of the group. Sadly, most bystanders don't do anything to stop it or report it. Sometimes kids are afraid if they tell, then they will become the one being picked on.
Studies show that kids who are bullied are at higher risk for depression, more likely to drop out of school, use drugs or alcohol, or become suicidal. Recent statistics show that 1 out of every 4 kids are bullied, and 43% of kids have been bullied online. Over 40% of children fear being bullied in school restrooms. Even on the playground, every seven minutes a child is bullied. 97% of middle school kids are bullied online. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth. The risk for kids who are bullied increases 2 to 9 times. For each suicide committed by a young person, there are about 100 attempts made by others. One study showed that girls age 10 to 14 are at an even higher risk. ABC news recently reported than on an average day, around 160,000 students stay home from school out of fear. Over the past 30 years, suicide among victims of bullying has jumped 50%. Parents, teachers, students, or anyone who may hear a child threaten to commit suicide should always take it seriously and get them help.
One thing to remember is that bullying doesn't always just take place between two children. It can be between a teacher and a child, or other adult and child. Teachers or adults can also be the victim, being harassed or bullied by a student. It even happens in the workplace, military, and prisons.
Most states have laws in place against bullying. Some states choose to handle problems in school with the victim and bully's families. Other states press charges against bullies or remove them from school.
A new movie titled "Bully" is scheduled to be released March 30, 2012. It is a documentary based on a group of students who are victims of bullying, and follows their daily routines. The film was rated R, which caused an uproar among many people who say that unless the rating is dropped to PG-13, the targeted audience won't even get to view the movie. Several celebrities including Ellen Degeneres, have stated they feel the rating should be dropped so that kids can see the movie. Many members of Congress have also signed a petition that was started, which has gathered more than 275,000 signatures. British Columbia and Alberta gave the film a PG rating, with a parental guidance warning that material may not be suitable for all children.
Other films have been released in the past that focus on bullying such as "Finding Kind", "Speak Up", "DISconnected", "Cyberbully", "It Gets Better", "Girl Fight", and "Losers".
October is national bully month. Preventative measures can be taken to reduce the risk of bullying. Talk to your child about being very careful what is said or posted online. Encourage your child not to respond if he is being cyberbullied. Make sure your child's school has a policy in place against bullying.