Bullying is a big problem in our society. In fact, it is considered an epidemic by many people. Since the pandemic we have not heard a great deal about it because most children were attending school remotely and had little direct contact with each other. However, bullying did continue during remote schooling and it is increasing as kids return to the classroom. Bullying in today’s world has become so bad that often kids who are being bullied decide suicide is a better option than living with the 24 hour, 7 day a week bullying they are enduring. Also bullying often results in the victim committing suicide.

Many people may ask how bullying can occur 24/7. It is called Cyber bullying. Due to technology kids can be bullied in person, but it doesn’t have to stop at school. Because of email, texting, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites, the bullying can occur non-stop. You can send texts and post to social media anytime day or night. Usually it is a group of kids targeting one kid. Therefore, this one kid is getting numerous texts and emails from several kids all day and night. Often the bullies even suggest suicide.

Most kids want to fit in at school and have friends. This is very important to children especially when they reach middle school. Many children do not tell their parents because they are embarrassed. They feel something must be wrong with them otherwise they would not be getting teased. They feel their parents will be disappointed with them and they are afraid their parents may agree with the bullies. Therefore, they say nothing and do their best to endure the bullying. It’s very important for parents to remember Cyberbullying is not similar to bullying that use to occur in the 1980s or 1990s at school. Also due to technology bullying has become a much bigger problem and research now shows bullying impacts the person being bullied, the bullies and the other children at school who are aware of the bullying. The bystanders usually don’t say or do anything because they are afraid of being bullied if they interfere.

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.

As I stated above 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 25 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 www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy or visit his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/drrubino3

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