By Alisa Star
Bullying can affect everyone – those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicides. It is very important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying or something else is a cause of mood changes.
Bullying can happen at school, at home or online. It is often a deliberate misuse of power in a relationship through repeated verbal, physical or social and psychological harm, and makes the bullied feel superior to the person being mistreated. This is never okay, and is not a normal part of growing up.
One of the most severe outcomes of bullying today is suicide with children who are bullied. Some people often say that kids who are bullied need to toughen up. But that’s not true. It would happen no matter how thick skinned kids are. Some people think that bullying is “just a part of life.” Well that’s not true either, and they don’t take it seriously until someone they know has committed suicide over it.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,000 deaths per year. For every suicide among young people, there are about 100 suicide attempts. Over 17% of high school students have considered suicide due to bullying, and 8 percent have attempted it. Bully-related suicide can be connected to many types of bullying, physical, emotional, cyber, and texting. The link between bullying and suicides in schools are on the rise, and causing more awareness to teachers and parents to learn about the signs and dangers associated with bullying.
Bullying can create high levels of social anxiety and a sense of a loss of dignity, and so many children show these signs and go unnoticed, or think it’s just a phase. Feeling unsafe can also have a huge negative impact on learning and participation in school functions. Over 4 million students skip school to avoid bullying.
Students who witness bullying happen can also experience negative impacts. Students can feel stressed, not knowing what to do, or if they should tell someone, in fear of getting someone in trouble, or the loss of social status. They may be afraid of becoming bullied themselves if they say something.
Research shows that bystanders are key to stopping bullying, but these students are part of peer groups and there may well be issues for them if they speak up. Students weigh the factors for them if they intervene, including their relationship with those involved, the apparent seriousness and impact, whether they think someone else would intervene, and their opinion of the person being bullied
Why do people bully others? In some cases it may be to improve social status, having low self-esteem, feeling angry or frustrated, having lack of remorse or failing to recognize their behavior as a problem, or maybe being a victim of bullying themselves. Some people who bully are tough and strong. While other bullies are popular but thoughtless. Bullies are usually likely to have lifelong issues, such as depression, aggression, or maybe from abuse themselves from a family member, or friend. Children who bully enjoy getting their way, or may like conflict, and the feeling of aggression that makes them feel like the cream of the crop.
Le Pere Goriot once said “Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.” While so many people would think this statement could hold a lot of trueness, it’s not acceptable. Throwing your weight around on people who are defenseless against your meanness is the worst form of cowardice imaginable. The desperate need to intimidate and control others in order to feel good about oneself is the most pathetic way to let out emotional and psychological steam. Everyone has some sort of problems in his or her life but resorting to bullying is the lowest form of handling the situation, in fact bullies tend to lose a lot of their friends. People don’t want to be associated with bullies, in fear they will be titled a bullier, too.
If you suspect a child or your child is being bullied, do what you can to get more information to take the first necessary steps to intervene. Bullying most often happens when adults are not around. Encourage open and honest relationships with your child, and don’t rush to judgement until you have had time to learn about the situation. Also you can educate your child on what bullying looks like. Teach them to recognize it when they see it, and to not be afraid to help or tell someone. This could save a life.
The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are the majority. No one heals themselves by wounding another person. And you never make yourself look good by making others feel bad.
Teach your child to value themselves by showing them how much you love them. Tell them every day that they are strong and that they have power over their own lives. Teach them to talk to you, by talking to them. Above all…Let them know how much they are loved, and how important they are in this world we live in.
Here’s to Living the Best You.