Monday, July 07, 2014
Stop bullying now before major consequences occur
Bullying has been in the news so much lately it seems to be an epidemic. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
According to the website StopBullying.gov, there are different forms of bullying:
• Verbal bullying: This can include name-calling, teasing, instilling fear and shame.
• Social bullying: Starting or spreading lies and false rumors, and/or breaking up friends and intentionally excluding others from activities.
• Physical bullying: This form of bullying can involve hitting, shoving, punching, being forced to do things and other acts that can lead to intentional harm to others.
• Racial harassment: Occurs when behaviors are associated to skin color, race and cultural background.
• Sexual harassment: Involves unwanted behaviors linked to gender or sexual orientation.
• Cyber–bullying: The use of digital technology involving the internet, texting, by email and other technological means to cause harm to others.
Unfortunately, the consequences of bullying have been well-documented — both short term and long term.Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. They are more likely to suffer:
• Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
• Health complaints like headaches, stomach aches, and even nausea.
• Decreased academic achievement — GPA and standardized test scores — and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. Increasingly, we have seen in the news that many of the perpetrators of recent school shootings had been victims of bullying, and just reached a breaking point.
What can be done? Adults should respond quickly and decisively when bullying occurs. The most important thing is to stop it on the spot. Make sure everyone is safe. Stay calm, and separate the kids involved. Support those who are bullied, and those who were witnesses. Don’t assume kids can deal with the situation without adult help.
If a crime has been committed, or there is a weapon involved, call 911. And probably most important, seek mental health resources or counseling for all involved, as appropriate. Bullying is a pervasive problem in our society, and we must all do our part to curb and stop it. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right.”
Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.healthydocs.blogspot.com or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.