Every day children suffer the devastating consequences that result from bullying in our schools. Bullying affects not only the children involved, but also has a negative impact on the entire school environment. Bystanders who witness bullying may either fear that they will be the next victims or deduce that this abusive behavior is tolerable.
Bullying causes both short and long term damage related to:
- Mental Health- shame, fear, low self-esteem, depression, and suicide
- Physical Problems- obvious bruises or wounds from harassment, sleep disruptions, bed wetting, psychosomatic aches
- Social Difficulty- inappropriate social skills, social isolation, inaccurate social perceptions
- School Setting- difficulty concentrating, poor academic performance, absenteeism, overall school climate and breakdown of school connectedness, escalating school violence
- Society- alcohol and drug abuse, gang involvement, escalating violence, crime
Bullying is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. Statistics show that:
- When asked about the major issues affecting youth today, more 8-15 year olds picked bullying than those who picked drugs, alcohol, racism, AIDS or peer pressure to have sex.
- Victims of bullying are 5 times more likely to be depressed than their non-victimized peers.
- Bullied boys are 4 times more likely to be suicidal and bullied girls are 8 times more likely to be suicidal than those who have not been affected by bullying.
The problem has become so serious that bullying has been increasingly considered as a public health issue plaguing our entire society. About 60% of the boys in 6-9th grade that are classified as bullies are later convicted of at least one crime by the time they are 24 and 40% had three or more convictions. It is imperative that we address bullying with school-age children in an effort to keep our schools and streets safer.
To learn what you can do as parents or concerned citizens please refer to advice for parents, how to build classrooms that discourage bullying behavior and our bullying links and resources.
The above information was compiled from Peer Abuse Learning Services, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids (Bullying Prevention is Crime Prevention), and "What Parents Should Know About Bullying" (Prevent Child Abuse America, 2002).