You need only glance at the headlines to see that bullying has become a sad fact of adolescence. Up to one in three kids report being victims of bullying at school. 49% of students between the grades of 4 and 12 say they’ve been targets of bullying at least once in the past month.
There are four types of bullying – Verbal, Emotional/Social, Physical, and Cyber. Cyber bulling is the most recent type of bullying that is having the largest impact on children and young adults. There are three strong reasons why cyber bullying has become so popular – Cyber bullying does not require a face-to-face interaction with the individual being bullied so less empathy and compassion is felt, cyber bullying is fast and can be passed around from person to person with lightning speed but also be endlessly revisited by victims, and many cyber bullies don’t believe they can be caught or discovered. What they don’t understand is that once something is posted out in cyber space, even if you delete it, it can be found by the right cyber space hacker. What bullies don’t realize, especially if they are young children or adults is that this type of bullying can come back in the future to cause even more harm.
The scars of bullying can linger for many years and can lead to emotional problems, including anxiety and depression. In addition to emotional problems bullying can also lead to such serious consequences for students that include a higher dropout rate, more incidents of violence at schools, lower self-esteem, fewer friends, declining grades, and increased illness.
With rising concerns about violent crime among youth offenders, parents, schools, and the community need to be concerned and become involved in reducing bullying behaviors because of the following reasons:
- Some victims of bullying may turn to violent means of retaliation.
- Some severely bullied victims have tried or do commit suicide as a means to escape their tormentors.
- Individuals that bully are highly likely to engage in other antisocial and delinquent behaviors such as vandalism, shoplifting, truancy, and illicit drug use. These behaviors often will continue into young adulthood.
- Bullying can create a negative school environment which is not conducive to learning and good social relationships.
- Bullying is a nationwide problem, including Manatee and Sarasota County.
An area of growing concern with bullying and teasing is as it applies to children and youth with disabilities or differences. Several studies in recent years have discovered that children with disabilities more frequently encounter bullying than their typical peers. In a nationwide poll released in 2012 it indicated that 63 percent of kids with autism have been bullied. Another study published that same year found that about half of adolescents with autism, intellectual disability, speech impairments, and learning disabilities were bullied at school. The likelihood that a child or teen with a disability would be bullied was greatest for those with the worst social and language skills and for students who spent more time in mainstream classrooms. Often when this occurs it is the student with the disability that is removed and uprooted from their environment to “solve” the problem and are placed in a more segregated environment. The U S Department of Education warns school districts that this type of reaction to a bullying problem can lead to a denial of a student’s right to a free and appropriate public education or FAPE and to participate in the least restrictive environment that would allow a student to receive a meaningful education.
The Family Network on Disabilities (FND Manasota) is hosting a Stand-Up to Bullying Conference in Bradenton on Saturday September 20, 2014 from 8AM-1:30 PM as well as a Community Awareness Breakfast on Friday, September 19th at 8:30 AM. Details about this conference and registration can be obtained by clicking here.