Bullying in America is a hot debate as more children are retaliating against their attackers in violent ways. The nation has put no-tolerance policies in place at all schools. Yet, the problem is ignored much of the time.
The thinking that this mistreatment is a right of passage is an old-fashioned notion that needs to be retired.
The children are in danger at school, on the internet and at work. How can parents tell if their child is a victim? What steps can be taken to end the brutality in school and on internet social sites? Schools and parents must work together to end bullying so your children are no longer afraid to go to school.
Bullying in America: Defining words and understanding
Bully (n) a person who uses power or strength to harm or intimidate others who are weaker.
Extortion (n) a person who uses threats or intimidation to gain possession
The laws of 52 states make extortion a felony or criminal offense, which is punishable by fine’s or up to 20 years in prison, or both. Are schoolyard bullies any different from extortionists?
- One child takes another child’s lunch money every day and in exchange, the child goes unharmed.
- A child turns in another’s work as his own every week with the threat he will tell the teacher the other child is the cheater.
- One child tells another to steal him a soda from the store or he will beat him up.
These are all criminal offenses in the adult world. Why do adults allow children to exhibit these behaviors without punishment? Why should a child go without lunch every day because he is the victim of extortion? The child’s parent would have the extortionist arrested when put in the same situation at their place of work.
Bullied students have no recourse in defending themselves without fear of retribution from adults and the bully.
Bullying in America: A study of bullies and their victims
More than 1200 children between the ages of 9 and 13 participated in a study to determine the long-term affects of bullying, being bullied, and being a bullied, bully.
The children, and their parents were interviewed each year until the child turned 16 After that age, just the subjects were interviewed yearly. The hypothesis was that the bully would have no long-term problems and the victims would have only mild effects.
- Former bullies are more likely to exhibit anti-social behaviors and mood disorders.
- Former bullies who also became bully victims, are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
- Victims of bullying have more anxiety disorders, depression and self-esteem issues than those who were not victims.
The home lives of those studied varied from two parents, functional households to single parent dysfunctional homes. This proves that peer interaction as children and teenagers plays a far more important role in adulthood than thought. Homelife seems to have little to do with the long-term effects of bullying in America.
Bullying in America: Is Your Child a Victim?
Parents who are in touch with their children can feel when something is not quite right with their behavior. But, children who want to hide something may seem normal and give only small signals.
- Afraid to ride the bus to school.
- Begins playing sick to stay home from school.
- Comes home with bruises or torn clothing that is not explained.
- Begins losing valued possessions suddenly.
- Moody, withdrawn and not wanting to talk about school.
- Unusual mood swings and fits of anger or violence.
If you strongly suspect bullying is the cause of your child’s recent changes, sit your child down to discuss it. If he is unwilling to talk, you can ask direct questions and use a caring tone, not a scary tone. Your child will be more forthcoming if he only needs to nod or shake his head.
Ask one of his close friends if you are not able to get an answer from your child.
The age of cyber bullying
Horror stories about social network bullying have been surfacing in recent months. At least two teenage girls have killed themselves after being harassed by peers, and in one case, an acquaintances mother, on Facebook.
- A 12 year-old girl hanged herself after months of chatting with who she thought was a boy,
- turns out to be a neighborhood mother.The mother presented herself as a teenage boy who was interested in the girl. When the girl confessed to liking him, the woman began cussing her and calling her names, still as the boy. Devastated, the young teen fled to her room. The girl’s mother heard a noise upstairs and found her daughter dead moments later.
- Another young girl passed-out after consuming too much alcohol at a party. Several boys took turns raping her and photographed the brutal event then posted it on Facebook. The girl was harassed both on the social site and at school by other girls who called her slut and whore. She, too, hanged herself.
Parents must do serious self-assessments after these incidents. Look at the relationship you have with your children:
- Do you talk to your children with an openness that invites them to speak honestly with you?
- Do you believe your daughter would come to you and admit she made a mistake but did not an any way deserve what happened. Would she ask for your help?
- Would you help?
- Would your children really die if you were one of their Facebook friends?
- Is your child mature enough to have a Facebook page of her own?
- Does your child know you would rather be a disappointed parent than the parent of a dead teenager?
Bullying in America:: It takes a village
The adults who are responsible for children and teenagers have to come together as a unit to fight the bullying in America. The role models of this era are the Kardassians and professional athletes who still commit violent crimes after they sign multi-million dollar contracts. The role models kids need are parents and teachers who listen and take them seriously. It takes a village to raise a child.
- Get to know your children’s classmates and their parents.
- Know your child’s teacher and the school’s principal.
- Start following the no-tolerance laws for bullying.
- Make a Facebook page for positive posts about the good things kids are doing.
- Feature writings and artwork made by the kids.
- Punish bullies immediately when caught.
- Form a school judicial branch and hold trials for suspected bullies.
- Form student juries and put real laws and punishments into action.
Never ignore your child when they say they are being bullied It can end in tragedy, like in Columbine on March 20, 1999. or lead to mental illness in adult life. If the bullying does not end after speaking with the other parents or school authorities, take the bully to the police or civil court. Your child has the right to an education. Stand up for that right.