Bullying equates to raping the spirit and soul of every victim, in my opinion. Being bullied changes the child, youth or young adult forever.
I wonder how many adults have mental issues because they were bullied as children? That would be a great study for professionals to take on if it has not already been done. I was bullied as a child by my mother. I lived with constant stress at a time when I could not process that I was being wrongfully treated. I am Bipolar. Did that damaging treatment have anything to do with my life long circumstance?
We hear often about teens committing suicide because of depression and feelings of isolation. Some have even had their parents support, and have gone to the sources of the bullying without proper resolutions and help. That is in its self a crime. I recently read where a set of parents were going to be held accountable for their child’s actions for leaving a Face Book page up for over a year that contained bullying comments after their child was found guilty of bullying and received punishment. The court said that it was up to the parents to be knowledgeable in what their child was doing, and that they should have followed up to make sure the Face Book page was taken down. Face Book finally took the site down independent of the family.
Bullying can happen anywhere. When it happens at school, on college campuses or at home, where children are supposed to be safe, where does that leave the child? How helpless they must feel? Coaches and teammates have also been known to bully as well.
I knew of a case, years ago, where a child was cutting, and tried to commit suicide several times without success. The teen was being bullied by the parents. They were isolating the child by home schooling and bullying by way of their religious beliefs. Wonder if they ever heard the saying ” If you use the bible to hurt someone, you are using it wrong”? A Child Protective Service Hot line was contacted by a friend. The abuse was described, and the response was that nothing could be done legally unless the child attempted suicide and ended up in the hospital. I think that was absurd. No wonder this kid was so depressed, and, that suicide and cutting seemed to be the outcome and solution to the pain felt.
A story was in the news lately about a ten-year old girl who cut 14 inches of her hair off and donated it to Wigs for Kids, a charity for children with cancer. Her mother had to take her out of school, because she was being bullied. Classmates told her that she wanted to be a boy, that she was ugly now, and more hurtful things. This was reported to the Principle. He responded by saying that no one ever died from words, and that the girl needed to toughen up. The reported school was Pathway School of Discovery, run by the National Heritage Academies. This is so wrong. Victims need to be listened to and protected.
Bullying can cause a tsunami of emotions that have horrible consciences. Suicide is just one. Mass killers can be the consequence of having been bullied. I can think of several reports that have been in the news over the past year that proves this point.
Bullies are cowards. They often run in cowardly packs. They were not born bullies. They need to be uncovered, found, caught, prosecuted and rehabilitated. That is on the shoulders of society whether in schools, in churches, in law enforcement or in homes. Bullies need to be stopped because of the destruction they cause and the mental illness attached to their actions. This is a no-brainier.
Life is one big line of dominoes waiting to be tipped. Dominoes stand for action and non action. The only solutions is to tip those dominoes towards uncovering the problem of bullying. Education and reporting is paramount. Kids need to be taught the long-range consequences of bullying. They need to hear that kids getting bullied have a strong chance of becoming adult bullies or worse. Students need to be taught to feel safe in stepping in and stopping the harmful actions when they see them happening. They need to be encouraged to report abuse to adults, parents, teachers and even law enforcement officials. And if their message is ignored to go to another, and another until their message is heard. Let us bring this hidden epidemic out in the open where it belongs, and step up to the plate, and be a part of the solution, not the problem. Believe me when I say, “If you keep silent you are part of the problem”.
I want to end by talking about suicide prevention. There is a national suicide prevention organization called Active Minds.org. They held events on seven campuses in 2014. The event this year was called SEND SILENCE PACKING. The organization placed 1,100 back-packs on college campus grounds at one time in a large area during each event. Each back-pack had a picture of a student and their story of suicide. The number of back-packs represented the number of students who die each year from suicide. Faculty members and grief councilors handed out information to those who stopped by to view the back-packs. One college class studying health issues all viewed the array of symbols together and picked one back-pack to report on in class. Since 2008 Active Mind’s has visited 70 cities. This organization has come up with a powerful visual example of their message. They have reported many stories of people stepping up to share their pain during these events, and feel in those instances they may have stopped a suicide from happening.
I want to end by sharing a hot line for anyone thinking about suicide. It is 1-800-273-TALK.