Student Bullying In The US

Is Bullying A Silent Epidemic Among Kids?

Submitted by Christian Claudio

The best indicator of a sociopathic serial bully is not a clinical diagnosis but the trail of devastation and destruction of lives and livelihoods surrounding this individual throughout their life” – Tim Field

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says to bully is to treat abusively or to affect by means of force or coercion. Bullying is commonly accepted as attacking a person physically, verbally, or psychologically or intimidating a person. Bullying is often about a balance of power between the aggressor and the victim or target.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Service bullying is any act that involves aggressive behavior among school children and involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The commonest forms of bullying are physical (including hitting and threatening), verbal (such as name-calling, taunting, malicious teasing, and making sexual remarks), and psychological (such as damaging belongings, spreading rumors, excluding and rejecting). Bullying may be directed at a victim on the grounds of gender, sexuality, race, religion, economic background, or ability.

Racial bullying has taken serious overtones in many parts of the world. Same-sex bullying is often indicative of deep-rooted insecurities, and bullying of differently-abled children reflects essential prejudices. In many parts of the world, bullying is called ragging.


Student Bullying In The US…

According to recent surveys, one out of four kids in the US is bullied regularly by a peer. Over 160,000 kids miss school each day for fear of facing bullies. Over 280,000 students from secondary schools are physically attacked each month. In the US, a staggering 77% kids face bullying in some form – physically, verbally, mentally, or over the Internet. During school hours at least one child is bullied in the playground every 7 minutes and over 43% fear being bullied in the school bathroom. About 25% school kids in the US admit to being bullies or committing an act which may constitute bullying, about 17% were both aggressors and victims in different situations. About 14% school kids were complete victims. In all over 56% students were involved in some form of bullying – either as aggressors or as victims. 71% school kids believe bullying is a problem in their school.

Over 85% cases of bullying in schools go unreported. Peers intervene and support a victim in about 4% cases and parents or teachers intervene in about 11% cases. Bullying is often reflective of stereotyping and a persecution mania. 90% LGBT children report to having been bullied in school due to their orientation.

In the US, about 10% children drop out of school after having been repeatedly bullied. Bullied kids are about twice as likely as other kids to kill themselves. In the US, each year over 4,500 teens commit suicide making suicide the third largest killer of teens in the country.


Across The World

According to the 2007 Kandersteg Declaration Against Bullying in Children and Youth, an estimated 200 million children and youth around the world are being bullied by their peers each year.

69% of children in the UK report to having been bullied. In the UK, about 20% school children report bullying others while 85% have witnessed bullying.

In Canada, studies say about 64% kids have been bullied at school. 13% Canadian school kids bullied other students at least once a week. About 72% witnessed bullying in school once in a while.

Nearly 15% children report being bullied in Australia. According to studies in Australia, about 56% students have witnesses bullying at school. Over 11% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children report being bullied at school due to their Indigenous origin.

In India, bullying in schools and colleges, referred to as ragging, is widespread, but is largely unreported. In 2010, 19 cases of deaths (including suicides) due to ragging were reported.

According to a study in Brazil, nearly 30% children admitted to having been bullied at least once. Over 70% had witnessed bullying in school.

In Hong Kong secondary schools, over 56% children witness physical bullying and 34% witness extortion bullying. About 17% students admit to bullying peers but only 18.3% admit to having been bullied.


Cyber Bullying

With the proliferation of technology and social media, bullies have now found a new playground – the Internet. Over the past years, over 42% of the teens who used the Internet were found to have been bullied by their peers. About 80% of the teenagers who own a computer or a smartphone device are active on social media and have profiles on one or more sites. It is estimated that despite terms and conditions to the contrary, a recent study indicates that over 7.5 million Facebook users are kids under age 13. According to a study by McAfee 37% of American kids between the ages 10 & 12 are on Facebook and according to the London School of Economics about 38% of 9 to 12 year-old European children use social networking sites. 10% of these report being bullied on Facebook. Over 81% teenagers say they have been bullied online. 90% of the teenagers who witness bullying online say they ignore it and do not stand up to bullies. A mere 40% tell their parents.

Studies suggest that 10% of the children who are victims of cyber bullying attempt suicide. Online gaffes make for real life bullying, teenagers believe. Rebecca Black, the singer of “Friday”, was forced to quit school when her viral video exposed her to ridicule in her peer group. The Internet can also be a great source of support. It is the perfect place to report bullies while maintaining anonymity, to find support groups, and to stage large-scale protests.


Kids With Guns

According to a study undertaken in the US, harassment and bullying are directly linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents. Over 86% of the students who responded to a survey believed that teenagers turned to lethal violence in schools as a result of other children picking on them, humiliating them, or bullying them. 87% thought that shootings are a result of children acting out a desire to get back at those who have bullied or hurt them. About 61% were of the opinion that students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse. According to another study, in over 80% of the incidents of school shootings in the 1990s, the aggressor had been the target of bullying by peers.


Episodes That Shocked the World

Australia – The NSW Supreme Court awarded 18-year old Benjamin Cox $220,000 for the pain and suffering that he endured due to bullying in school. Following investigations, it was found that that the state education department had failed to deal with ongoing bullying. Benjamin’s mother, Angela Cox, had sued NSW state on his behalf. She alleged that bullying started in primary school and continued through high school. Benjamin was choked and beaten by an older boy at Woodberry Public School in 1994 and 1995.

USA – Megan Meier was a victim of cyber bullying. She committed suicide by hanging herself three weeks before her fourteenth birthday in 2006. She was bullied through the social networking site MySpace by the Lori Drew, mother of an estranged friend. Drew had opened a MySpace account under the name Josh Evans, and pretended to be a 16-year old boy. She befriended Megan and initially sent her nice messages. Later the tone of her messages changed and Megan was cyber bullied into killing herself. Though Drew was later indicted, she was acquitted in 2009

United Kingdom – In 2009, 18 year-old Keeley Houghton, of Worcestershire, became the first person in Britain to be sentenced to prison for bullying over a social network. She was sentenced to a three month term in a young offenders’ institution for having posted a message on Facebook in which she threatened to kill Emily Moore, another 18 year-old. Houghton had bullied Moore for over four years and had even resorted to physical abuse. She pleaded guilty to harassment

India – In 2010, three students at the National Power Training Institute, Durgpur, were sentenced to five years in prison for ragging a junior. The three girls allegedly made their junior strip and even photographed her. Unable to bear the trauma, the first-year student attempted suicide by slashing her wrists. This incident was regarded to be among the worst cases of student ragging in the state of West Bengal. The college authorities also suspended the three bullies based on the victim’s complaint.

India – In 2009, Aman Kachroo, a first-year student at Rajendra Prasad Medical College And Hospital in Himachal Pradesh was ragged by seniors and died of brain hemorrhage resulting from physical abuse. After his death, his father, Dr Raj Kachroo, lobbied for anti-ragging legislation and this led to the introduction of National Ragging Prevention Programme by the University Grants Commission.

USA – Ryan Halligan, an American schoolboy from Vermont, committed suicide in 2003 after being bullied repeatedly by his classmates. Halligan faced merciless bullying n real life and over the Internet. Ryan had initially been bullied for having learning disabilities. Later his classmates spread malicious rumors and declared him gay. Suicide was suggested by a pen-pal Ryan met online. Following his death his father, John P. Halligan, lobbied for strict anti-bullying laws to be passed in Vermont.


Teach Your Kids To Deal With Bullying

Confront – Bullies rarely expect confrontation. Some confrontations may not be easy, especially if a measure of physical abuse in involved. In these cases confrontation needs a bit more thought and you may need to involve an adult. Allowing bullies to have their way is as bad as bullying itself.

Confide – Trust your parents and teachers. Most targets assume that their complaints will be faced with disbelief. Have one adult you can always go to in times of trouble and confide in completely – it could be a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, or a social worker. Confide and seek help.

Support – There are a number of support systems available for kids who are bullied – there are a number of kids’ helplines, websites, and support groups available. Read more about how other kids have been able to overcome bullies. Offer your support to any other kid in distress.

Report – Silence of the target is a bully’s greatest ally. Most bullies use overt or covert threats to dissuade the target from reporting them. Most schools and institutions have anonymous facilities to report bullying. Report in bullies and incidences that you witness even if you are not the target.

Befriend – Psychological bullying is aimed at isolation and often leaves the target feeling lonely. Befriends peers and building up a healthy group which shall be willing to support you is one way of avoiding or counteracting a bully’s intentions. While a social network may be a bully’s playground, it is also a great place to befriend and interact.


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