Childhood bullying has been an ongoing topic of discussion for quite some time. This is due to both the severity and the persistence of this issue. The effect childhood bullying has on both the victim and the aggressor can be life-altering if not life-ending. Each year, an average of 8,000 children will end their own lives, nearly 1 per hour, in an attempt to escape their bullies. Additionally, those who make it to adulthood experience elevated tendency towards psychological disorders and social anxiety for the remainder of their lives.
Bullying isn’t the hazing we all received as kids that “made us stronger”, it’s killing our children and ruining their lives. Parents and schools must adopt more effective standards in preventing and eliminating this detriment within our schools. The following article will define, outline, and present causes, effects, and preventative measures in ending this epidemic.
What are the Effects of Bullying?
As stated above, nearly one child per hour commits suicide as a result of being bullying, many of which may have been prevented had an educator or a bystander taken appropriate action. This number, while high is only the tip of the iceberg with regard to those impacted by bullying. The psychological implications of bullying can extend into the long-term and affect both parties as they mature into adulthood. These long-term effects include drug and alcohol abuse as well as an increased chance of incarceration. Bullying itself may merely be a symptom of a pre-existing psychological condition indicating the necessity for guidance and counseling to prevent it from worsening.
We all have the expectation that our schools need to exhibit more involvement in deterring and disciplining this behavior prior to its progression. But it isn’t just up to the school and bus drivers, it’s the parent’s responsibility as well. Not just the parents of the bully or the bullied, it’s also every parent’s responsibility to instill right and wrong and to empower their kids to act upon these morals. Essentially, everyone who plays a role in a child’s development is integral in nurturing and conditioning them into respectful young people who appreciate the value of a life.
How Can We Help?
As parents, we need to understand that our children are like sponges and as they learn the ways of the world, they will soak up our views and mimic our actions. As a result, how we treat others around us is likely how our kids will treat their peers. Show compassion and respect, and our children will do so too. More importantly, talk to your kids, tell them the importance of treating others well and standing up for what is right.
Just like we discuss “the birds and the bees”, find the right time to teach them to refuse to become a victim, refuse to be the aggressor, and refuse to be a bystander. Just as important as not being the bully or the bullied, being a witness to these actions and doing nothing about them or worse, recording it and sharing it to social media for “likes” is just as bad as being the bully.
The Bystander Effect
The bystander effect is a scientifically researched occurrence, which indicates that when there is more than one witness to an event, even at an extreme encounter, they are far less likely to react. Research maintains that humans will look to others for guidance in regards to if they should act, when to react and how they should do so. This may be a result of a herd mentality or a decentralized decision making in which humans actually adopt a group “behavior.” This can sometimes act out in ways they never would alone or even prevent them from reacting to potential emergencies. By empowering our kids ahead of time to stop a bully or tell an adult, we can prevent physical and emotional harm that can affect a child for the rest of his or her life.
A Joint Effort for Prevention
People likely pick on others as a result of their upbringing. There is usually a void or resentment in one’s life and they temporarily fill it by belittling or causing pain to someone they perceive as weaker. As parents, it is our responsibility to love and nurture our children and provide them with a sense of worth so they won’t need to validate themselves at the expense of others.
Educators need to monitor and react to bullying at any capacity and demonstrate a zero tolerance for this behavior. If parents and schools work together, we can help prevent suicide in youths as well as prevent the suffering of our children.