Jonah Mowry, the boy in the YouTube video above, is only one of the many people whose lives have been affected by bullying. When I was 10 or 11 years old, a group of kids decided to make my life hell. They threw things at me when I was walking home from school, spread rumours about me, and phoned my house to either say nasty things or simply hang up on me. I spent most of my time afraid.
And I did nothing about it.
I didn’t tell a teacher or a parent. My mom and I talked openly about absolutely everything, and yet it never occurred to me to tell her what was going on. I was ashamed to be the butt of this nastiness – I thought that there must be something wrong with me and that, somehow, I deserved it. So I put up with it, living in fear and dreading school. Every time the phone rang, my stomach cringed. For years I let the answering machine screen calls for me, and to this day, I still don’t enjoy answering the phone.
Here are just a few of the statistics on bullying:
- 160,000 kids stay home from school every day due to fear of bullying (National Education Association & ABC News)
- More than 7 percent of 9th through 12th graders reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property at least once in the last year. An additional 6 percent admitted to bringing a weapon to school for protection. (CDC – Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention)
- Those who bully are four times more likely to engage in criminal behavior in adulthood and often develop suicidal thoughts (Overpeck et al. 2001. “Bullying Behaviors Among US Youth”. JAMA.)
- 38% of young people have been affected by cyber-bullying, with abusive emails (26%) and text messages (24%) being the most common methods. (National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, NSPCC)
- Victims of cyber bullying show more signs of depression than other bullying victims. (National Institutes of Health, SAFE, Tony Bartoli)
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people- about 4,400 per year (The American Association of Suicidology, AAS)
- At least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying (British study)
The interesting thing about bullying is that although so many adults suffered from it as children, when they hear about it happening to kids they say, “Oh, it’s just a stage. It’s something kids have to go through.”
Bullying causes victims to develop low self-esteem, which often carries over into adulthood. Many students become fearful of going to school and have trouble concentrating, thus their grades drop. Some kids become isolated, refusing to take part in outdoor activities and comforting themselves with unhealthy foods, leading to health issues. In worst case scenarios, kids take their own lives.
How can we possibly believe this is just a stage?
All parents, teachers, and children need to be educated about bullies, silent witnesses, and victims of bullying. It’s only when we recognize bullying and actively do something about it that we can make changes. As a child, I didn’t speak out because I didn’t recognize what was happening to me. Had adults spoken to me about bullying I would have understood it and not felt so ashamed. I would have reported it.
Bullies thrive in silence and secrecy. We need to stop them by opening up and speaking out.
Stop bullying. Talk to your kids.