Students from schools all around the world have dealt with the issue of bullying.
Bullying has become an epidemic in schools, prompting parents and students to seek laws that will stop the bullying process. A recent study by the journal JAMA Pediatrics showed that bullying could have grave effects. The study finds that people that are bullied and are between the ages of 9 and 21 are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as a person that is not bullied.
Researchers also found that cyber bullying was strongly link to suicidal thoughts.
Other sources, such as the federal government website for bullying, www.stopbullying.gov, claim that the link between bullying and suicide is not real. They state that it cannot be concluded that suicide directly correlates to bullying and that making such a correlation is “not accurate and potentially dangerous.”
Regardless of correlation, those effected by the suicide of a loved one are fighting for laws that make bullying a crime.
Tricia Norman’s daughter, Rebecca Sedwick, committed suicide last year after being bullied by schoolmates. With the help of several Florida lawmakers and her attorney Matt Morgan, Norman is attempting to pass a bill entitled “Rebecca’s Law”. The law calls for bullying to become a criminal offense. Common bullying will be viewed as a misdemeanor crime, while aggravated bullying will be a third-degree felony.
While “Rebecca’s Law” would set a standard for the deterrence of bullying, a key step may come from school administrators and parents. Counselor and therapist Keri Funk has found that, on some occasions, school administrators have dropped the ball when it comes to stopping bullying.
“I had a little girl that was seven-years-old and she had told her parents she was being bullied and they had contacted the administrator,” said Funk.
Funk says that, in this case, even after school administrators were made aware of the bullying, it continued.
The prevalence of bullying appears to be increasing in schools, especially among middle and high school students.
“I would say that bullying contributes to problems,” said Joel Christie, an Orlando-area therapist. “About 60 to 70 percent of my patients in middle and high school have experienced bullying.”
Whether a correlation between the age group’s use of technology and exposure cyber bullying exists is still unknown. Christie has noticed, however, that bullying has changed.
“It think it has changed form,” Christie said. “If you look at message boards, some of the constraints of what people say go away.”
Both Christie and Funk believe that there are ways to counteract bullying. For example, Funk says that one good element came out of her story about the bullied seven-year-old girl.
“At a young age she was able to tell her parents what was going on,” said Funk.
While telling someone about the bullying may be an important step, the most important part of the process lies with the person that is told about the bullying.
“If they feel there is someone they can talk to, it has much less negative impact,” Christie said. “If there is someone to talk to about what is going on they are more likely to feel better about their life.”
By Ryan DiPentima