More bad news about bullying
The link between bullying and school violence has attracted increasing attention since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold claimed bullying led them to open fire on their fellow students at Columbine High School in 1999.
According to recent findings from a trio of studies, high school students subjected to bullying and other forms of harassment are more likely to report being seriously depressed, consider suicide and carry weapons to school.
“Teens can be the victim of face-to-face bullying in school, electronic bullying outside of the classroom and dating violence,” senior investigator Dr. Andrew Adesman said in a news release. “Each of these experiences are associated with a range of serious adverse consequences.”
The first study found that depression and suicide are much more common in teens who have been victims of bullying in school and/or electronically.
“Although cyber-bullying may not pose the same physical threat that face-to-face bullying does, it can be far more hurtful since it can spread like wildfire throughout a student body and take on a life of its own,” Dr. Adesman said.
The second study found that bullying, physical dating violence and/or sexual dating violence were each associated with teens missing school or carrying weapons to school.
Dr. Adesman noted that teens who were victimized in more than one way were especially likely to carry a weapon to school or skip school altogether.
Alexis Tchaconas, another investigator in the study, said in a press release that bullying and dating violence were more common than many might expect.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of high school students experience dating violence, and 20 percent report being bullied.
The third study focused on gender differentiation with teens who were victims of bullying in the last 12 months and carried a weapon to school.
Researchers found that boys are more likely to carry a weapon to school than girls, whether or not they were bullied. Girls who were victims of bullying were more than three times as likely to carry a weapon than girls who were not victimized.
“Girls who have been victimized are much more likely to carry a weapon; unfortunately, the CDC data does not tell us if this is for their own protection or to seek revenge,” said Dr. Adesman. “Effective strategies need to be developed to eliminate bullying if we want our teens to be safe and enjoy their adolescence.”
“Boys carry weapons for a lot of reason; gang activity, appeals to the need to feel macho, etc.,” Dr. Swaminathan says. “Girls, on the other hand, carry a weapon because it’s a desperate attempt to feel safe.”
All three studies were based on data collected by the CDC as part of its 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. This survey is a biannual questionnaire of high school students in all 50 states and is constructed to provide a representative sample of high school students in the U.S.
Stopbullying.gov reports that 20 percent of U.S. high school students have experienced bullying, while 15 percent were electronically bullied in the last year.
“Being bullied leaves an unforgettable scar on children, fostering a sense of shame and hopelessness that often leads to despair and suicide,” Dr. Swaminathan says.
If you are being bullied, are depressed or thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to trained counselor.
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