Let’s take a hard look at the problem of… BULLYING

This issue has become so serious, the U.S. Department of Education has become involved.  On October 26, 2010, the U.S. DOE sent a 10 page letter to 15,000 school districts and 5,000 colleges and universities.  Its purpose was to send a clear message—bullying is no longer a rite of passage for young ones; it’s not to be viewed as a part of the growing up process.

Rehema Ellis of NBC Nightly News reported that the letter “reminded schools they could violate civil rights statutes if they fail to adequately address racial, religious, sexual, and gender based harassment.”

Notice what Dr. Duane Alexander, former director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, had to say about bullying and its long-term effects.  “It’s a public health problem that merits attention.  People who were bullied as children are more likely to suffer depression and low self-esteem, well into adulthood, and the bullies themselves are more likely to engage in criminal behavior later in life.”

Bully Police, USA, is a watch dog organization that reports on state anti-bullying laws.  Currently, 47 states have anti-bullying laws in place.  You can view your state’s law, and how this organization rates it by going to:  bullypolice.org

Some say children who commit suicide as a result of being bullied have been ‘bullied to death.’ There’s a term for that now:  BULLYCIDE.

These statistics from the 2007 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (all using 12-18 year old U.S. students in the 2006-2007 school year) are grim, indeed.

  • About 31.7% (approx. 8,166,000) of this group of students reported being bullied while at school.
  • Approximately 3.7% or 940,000 of them indicated they were victims of cyberbullying.
  • More girls than boys reported being bullied:  girls, 33.2%; boys, 30.3%.
  • There’s more bullying among middle school students than high schoolers.
  • 6th (42.7%), 7th (35.6%), and 8th grades (36.9%).
  • 9th (30.6%), 10th (27.7%), 11th (28.5%), and 12th grades (23%).
  • More students report being bullied in public schools (32.4%) than in private schools (30.5%).
  • 6.6% of those being bullied reported they were bullied almost daily.
  • 11.4% (930,924) said they feared attack or harm, 2% (163,320) skipped school altogether, 1.7% (138,822) skipped class, 4.1% (334,806) avoided school activities, 11.8% (963,588) avoided a specific place at school, 14.5% (1,184,070) engaged in 1 or more fights, and a startling 3.6% (293,976) carried a weapon to school.

According to the report, U.S. Secret Service Safe School Initiative (10/2000), in over 2/3 of the cases studied involving school shootings, the perpetrators had been bullied before the attack.  The harassment they endured was both severe and longstanding.

A study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by researchers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford University School of Medicine revealed 9 out of 10 elementary students were bullied.  (April 12, 2007)

  • This same study uncovered another disturbing fact:  nearly 6 out of 10 children participating in the preliminary study said they took part in some form of bullying in the past year.
  • Dr. Tom Tarshis, a child psychiatrist and lead author of this study, said, “We know that both bullies and victims tend to suffer higher levels of depression and other mental health problems throughout their lives.  We need to change the perception that bullying at school is a part of life and that victims just need to toughen up.”
  • Dr. Lynne Huffman, co-author of the study, noted, “We found it particularly interesting that these indications of victimization and bullying are apparent at very young ages.”

A report published in the December, 2009, issue of School Psychology Quarterly (published by the American Psychological Association) revealed students who witness acts of bullying could experience as much or more psychological distress as the victim themselves.  This would indicate that being a bystander can also have serious consequences for the student.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said, “Bullying is a community issue that is related to public safety, & our work to prevent it impacts the health & well-being of our residents.  We all need to play a part to put an end to bullying through youth involvement and leadership.

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