Anyone who suffered through bullying as a child or teen, or who has watched someone they love endure it knows that bullying can severely affect self-image, social skills, and academic performance, and that the effects can last a lifetime. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), bullying can lead to “insecurity, lack of self-esteem, and depression in adulthood.” And these are just the non-physical consequences.
We’ve all seen the news stories of children and teens who were bullied in school and/or online to the point where they committed suicide. Although anecdotal evidence abounds, statistics can be harder to pin down. There is, nonetheless, clear evidence of a link. In 2008, researchers at Yale University who analyzed 37 studies on bullying and suicide among children and adolescents in the U.S., Canada, European and Asian countries, and South Africa reported that “Almost all of the studies found connections between being bullied and suicidal thoughts among children. Five reported that bullying victims were two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children were.” In 2010, the UK group Beatbullying reported that nearly half of suicides among kids 10 to 14 years old are due to bullying, and 65% of those were girls.
Bullying has become such an epidemic that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services launched a Stop Bullying website. The site provides resources to help prevent, spot, and respond to bullying, such as its page “Be More Than a Bystander.” Sadly, many of the bystanders are adults whose job it is to protect children, like teachers, coaches, and school administrators. According to the PACER Center, the main sponsor of National Bullying Prevention Month, “More than two-thirds of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective…..25 percent of teachers see nothing wrong with bullying or putdowns and consequently intervene in only 4 percent of bullying incidents.” The New York Times headline of its review of the documentary Bully earlier this year put it succinctly: “Behind Every Harassed Child? A Whole Lot of Clueless Adults.”
To support Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, NCTSN is providing resources for families, teens and tweens, educators, clinicians, mental health professionals, and law enforcement personnel to help them recognize, handle, and prevent bullying, whether verbal, physical, or online. This month, anti-bullying groups across the U.S. are providing new resources and campaigns aimed at bringing awareness to the issue. These campaigns included Unity Day, on Oct. 10, and Spirit Day (aimed at bullying of LGBT youth) on Oct. 19. The International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) is holding its ninth annual conference on Nov. 4-6 in Kansas City, MO. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Courage to Act: Working Together to End Bullying,” which will cover a broad range of topics related to bullying.
Courtesy Image: stopbullying.gov