The problem of children being bullied at school and online is getting worse not better. There are a number of school programs designed to decrease bullying but unfortunately they do not seem to be making the impact we hoped they were making with children. There are two incidents which occurred recently which makes me feel this way.
One technique we teach children is not to be passive and get involved. In other words, if they see another student being bullied to tell a teacher, provide emotional support to the child who is being bullied or to stand up to the other children and request that they stop. Well a six year old boy did this for a friend. He saw a friend being bullied and he told the other children to stop. The children turned on him and now he probably will need surgery for a broken arm. I have included the video so you can see what happened to this brave boy. Please watch this video
Another example is a nine year old boy who came out to family and friends over the summer that he was gay. The teasing and bullying he received from the other boys was so intense he recently committed suicide. Imagine the bullying that a 9 year old was having to endure was so intense that he decided he would be better off dead. He had a supportive family, but that was not enough to eliminate the trauma he experienced from the boys who were bullying him.
As adults we need to step in and do something to stop this bullying epidemic. We are telling children to speak up and we are trying anti-bullying programs and they are helping somewhat but not enough. We have to look at what our children are seeing in our Country. We have a President who uses Twitter to bully people and he calls people names in his speeches such as saying Representative Maxine Walters has a very low IQ. The response is well that is how he acts. If he can use that excuse why can’t children. The children and teenagers I see for psychotherapy are using the President’s behavior as an excuse.
However, look at the price children are paying. Bullying and cyber bullying are at epidemic levels. It is also not uncommon for children to be physically hurt or commit suicide when they are being bullied. We have become so accustomed to these suicides and kids being hurt physically that the two stories I provided a link to barely made the news and were accepted as the new norm. This is very sad if we will allow this to be the new norm for children.
Additionally, we know that children who are bullied are more likely to have mental health problems as adults and more likely to commit suicide as adults. So the problem does not end as these children grow up, it follows them their entire lives. I have seen this in my office. I have students in college or seniors in high school who are in therapy for bullying that occurred in the first grade.
I am not sure what the answer is to this problem. However, if we accept this as the new norm it will never change. If we allow people like the President to call people names on Twitter and in public and accept it, the problem will never end. How can you tell a child not to bully someone when the President does it daily and children are aware of his behavior. They use his behavior as an excuse all the time, when I am discussing their poor behavior.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience specializing in treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.