Bullying reaches epidemic proportions as more young people cry out for help

Take action, don’t be an observer

Merdies Hayes Editor In Chief | 12/14/2017, midnight
By now, millions of people around the world have likely seen the heartbreaking..

More bullying of LGBT students

With more adolescents identifying with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community, a unique look at this issue was undertaken in 2014 by the National School Climate Survey. They found that 74.1 percent of LGBT students were verbally bullied (e.g. called names, threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation; 55.2 percent of these youngsters said they were bullied because of their gender expression.

A significant number (36.2 percent) of LGBT youth reported being physically bullied (pushed and shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation; 22.7 percent said it was because of their gender expression. Among these students, 55.5 percent said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.

So many sad stories of youth suicide are directly correlated with bullying. While other mediating factors such as depression, violent behavior and substance abuse can be associated with either suicidal thoughts, attempts or youth deciding to take their lives, the CDC has reported that students who bully others, are bullied, or witness bullying are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than students who report no involvement in bullying. The CDC was careful to point out that youth suicide is not always the natural response to being bullied, and this false belief has the potential to normalize the response and thus create a “copycat” behavior among youth.

School yard is frequent place

Bullying can occur any place, any time and at any age. For children, however, the school yard is often the common location for what is believed to be harmless horseplay or teasing. One little girl grabs another’s hair and yanks her backwards off a swing. In the cafeteria, the so-called “mean kid” smacks down a smaller boy’s tray, spilling his food. In the classroom, a group of kids repeatedly taunt the youngest or newest kid in class for being “stupid.”

From the vantage point of adulthood, bullying is simply mean-spirited and pointless, but is traditionally considered a regular part of childhood. This is where concerned adults are sometimes confused or misunderstand what a bullied child is trying to convey because the behavior is repeated each day. The victim sometimes views the bully as someone with more power in the situation, especially if the perpetrator is older, bigger, stronger or has a “clique” of students who support his/her behavior. Realizing that the victim has no real power to stop the torment, the bully will continue his/her behavior which causes daily aggravation upon the victim.

‘An attempt to instill fear’

“Bullying is an attempt to instill fear and self loathing,” said Dr. Mark Dombeck of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. “Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable and effective individual.”

In terms of “when in life” bullying occurs, this tends to change as children age, according to a 2013 report from the Child Trends DataBank. They found that physical aggression starts out higher among students and decreases consistently, with 18 percent of children aged 2 to 5 years reporting some experience with physical aggression, but only 10 percent of teens aged 14 to 17 years reporting it. Cyberbullying, conversely, tends social media harassment. This scenario reportedly rises to 14 percent for those bullied youth 14 to 17 years old.

Researchers contend that is practically impossible to predict who will get bullied based on their age, sex, race, class, sexual orientation or national origin because none of these categories (nor any combination of traits) can guarantee that a child will or not be bullied. However, those who do get bullied may exhibit some common characteristics.