by Tabitha Bellington
On April 16th eighth grade girls hung themselves during a slumber party; they were best friends and had made a suicide pact after being bullied by their peers for the better part of a year. Sadly, bullying has and seems like it always will be a part of growing up. It has always been one of those things that we were always told to shrug off and now there is research saying that this may not be possible. Scientists have found that kids who had been bullied in school can affect them into their adult lives. What they found is actually quite alarming because the words hurt just as much as “sticks and stones.” After reading about the effects of bullying I am very adamant that it is the responsibility of the parents and schools to be vigilant when bullying takes place we need to intervene. Our kids need to know that bullying is not okay and that if we all take a stand against it then it could be less and less likely to happen.
I remember when I was in school probably about the sixth grade I was picked on for being a little bit on the pudgy side by some of the boys. It was not a pleasant experience for me and I can’t help but worry that my kids could possibly have to go through the same thing. I remember how hurtful those words were to me and I can’t imagine now that if my son is a victim of a bully they could send him a hurtful text messages or post nasty messages about him on Facebook. These kids aren’t even able to have a break from this kind of abuse when they leave school. My son is six and is going to be finishing up Kindergarten very soon. He is a very sweet but, sensitive boy and is smaller than some of the other boys in his class. Since I am his mother I think that he is the most wonderful and precious boy ever and to think that anyone would ever try to hurt him verbally or physically is horrifying to me. If he came to me and told me that one of his classmates or any kid from his school was being mean to him I would absolutely without a doubt be seeing red. I have always taught him to be nice to everyone no matter what they look like or how they choose to dress because everyone is special in their own way and that is awesome.
The article I read called “Inside the Bullied Brain” by Emily Anthes that was published online for Seed Magazine and it really struck me deeply. The article talks about how Neuroscientists have been doing research on how bullying affects some children so deeply that they actually can become severely depressed or even contemplate suicide. The internal physiological damage that bullying can do, researchers are recasting it not as merely an unfortunate rite of passage but as a serious form of childhood trauma. (boston.com, 1) The scars that come from bullying are compared to the same type that children who are physically and sexually abused early in their life would have. (boston.com, 1) Villancourt, one of the scientists, believes that the type of research they are performing could be a valuable tool in changing how the public and educators who maybe in a position to intervene. (boston.com, 4) If the information they gather could reach even a few people then it would be that many more who would feel better knowing they stopped someone from being hurt, even if it was by words.
An article in the titled “Bullies still lurking in school halls” says that even a decade after the Columbine shootings the push to rid schools of bullies has evolved, but the results are modest. (Denverpost.com) Three sophomores at one school said that name calling, fighting are still happening in the schools and if you say anything about what’s going on then you’re considered a tattletale or a snitch. They all agree that it is still happening and the teachers probably don’t know about it. (Denverpost.com) Susan Payne, director of the Safe 2 Tell program, which runs an anonymous tip line for students, has conducted more than 1,000 bully-prevention trainings across Colorado. Students also receive a wallet-sized card with the number for the Safe 2 Tell hotline, which started in 2004 and estimates four of 10 calls are about bullying. (Denverpost.com) The idea of this program is wonderful and it really bothered me that they said parents are the ones that are most resistant because they don’t want anyone telling them what to do. The message that they are putting out there is not “telling” us what to do as parents but, giving us the tools that we can use to be more aware of bullying. I have drilled it into my kids that it is not alright for anyone to call you names or say mean things and if they do then you have to tell the teacher or myself so we can fix it. I feel that every parent should encourage their child to do the same because saving one more kid from a life of depression or ending their life too soon is not tattling or being a snitch.
Bullying is one part of life that no child should have to go through. Our children should be able to learn in school without having to look over their shoulder and worry about being verbally or physically abused in the hallway on the way to their next class. Studies have shown that even the smallest amount of bullying is too much. We as parents, bus drivers, teachers even cafeteria workers need to keep our eyes and ears open so we are able put a stop to it before it goes too far. It is very, very important that we make sure that kids know they can come to us because we are adults and know that we will help to resolve the issue no matter what. Hopefully by the time my kids are in high school bullying will be something they don’t see very often if at all.
Note from Anton: If Your Child is Being Bullied an excellent resource is Free From Bullies.
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