Bullying is a big problem in our society. It is considered an epidemic by many people. Also bullying often results in the victim committing suicide. Children and teens don’t have the cognitive ability to cope with bullying and now with cyber bullying it is even more difficult. Cyber bullying is when kids are bullied via email, text, posts on social media and it can occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, the victim feels suicide is the only way to stop the bullying.
Statistics by the CDC indicate that between 1 out of every 3 or 4 kids are bullied during their lives. The majority of bullying occurs during middle school. The kids most likely to be bullied are those that are considered different in some way. A boy may be emotional or a girl may not wear the right brand of clothes. These are common reasons many kids are bullied. If you think about it, these are no reasons to bully someone. In fact, there is no reason that justifies bullying.
Bullying has life long effects on those who are bullied, those who bully and those who stand by and watch the bullying happen. Let’s examine the impact of bullying on these different groups:
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:
• Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
• Health complaints
• Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
• Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
• Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
• Engage in early sexual activity
• Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
• Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:
• Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
• Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
• Miss or skip school
The Harlem Globtrotters have developed a program to help address and stop bullying. They call it the ABC program. It is not very difficult and makes a lot of sense. Here is the program:
Action – when you see bullying or are being bullied tell your parents or a teacher.
Bravery – don’t be afraid to walk away from someone who is bullying you. If you see someone bullying someone tell them to stop.
Compassion – if you know someone is being bullied or looks down go over and be nice to the person. Compliment them or encourage them to ignore the bully.
Here is a link to the ABC program so you can watch it and discuss it with your children https://youtu.be/O-TF7x3Q_sk.
If we don’t become active when bullying is occurring, it will never stop. This means teaching our children to speak out against it too. Look at the list above, bullying impacts everyone. It has life long effects on the bullied, the bullies and those who see it. Therefore, we must all act.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who has over 20 yrs experience treating children and teenagers. He is a founding member of the National Street Soldier Advisory Board, an anti bullying program. For more information about his work and private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.