Even though it is not new, there is an epidemic of bullying in this country. An unprecedented number of youngsters, primarily teenagers, are being bullied and feel that their own recourse is suicide. This is just wrong! No one should have to endure bullying, and everyone should know that they are a person of worth and that they are valued. I wish I could wrap my arms around everyone who is thinking about, contemplating, suicide and just tell them that it can get better. Whatever they’re going through now is just now and not forever.
The following information is built on a basic outline provided by stopbullying.gov. That website is primarily focused on children while I approach bullying with a broader view.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Those who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Types of Bullying
There are three types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
- Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone’s things
- Making mean or rude hand gestures
Where and When Bullying Happens
We hear about bullying occurring most at schools where it happens during or after school hours. But bullying does not stop at the school doors. If someone bullies in school, they are likely to continue their behavior outside of school and as they become an adult. For kids, while most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.
Frequency of Bullying
There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:
- The 2009 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
- The 2008–2009 National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics School Crime Supplement indicates that, nationwide, 28% of students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.