The Effect of Bullying on Young Minds
This has to end.
Every seven minutes a child is bullied, with only four percent adult intervention, and the federal government still has no laws in place to help prevent it. While some states have laws in place surrounding bullying, they are not always enforced the way they should be. Some people do not find bullying to be a big deal, but it is. One young woman put it this way, “They say ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but word will never hurt me.’ That quote is a lie and I don’t believe it. Sticks and stones may cause nasty cuts and scars, but those cuts and scars will heal. Insulting words hurt and sometimes take forever to heal.” The federal government should put laws in place to prevent bullying and punish bullies because more children are skipping school due to bullying, teen suicide and self-harm rates are on the rise, cyber bullying is a growing issue and bullying causes many physical and psychological problems.
One hundred sixty thousand students skip school daily in fear of being bullied, and even more students come to school in a chronic state of anxiety. Students cannot get a quality education if they are coming to school in that state of mind. School should be a safe place where students can come, learn, and be themselves. They should not have to come and worry about what will happen to them, or what will be said to them. Sixty-nine percent of students say that schools respond poorly to reports of bullying. Eventually students just stopped reporting the bullying, because the schools do not do anything about it. Twenty-eight percent of students report being bullied, but the teachers rarely do anything about it. In a recent story of a football coach in Utah, he found out his players were cyberbullying another student, and bullying other students in school. The coach stepped forward, and took action, he suspended every single one of his players, and is making them earn their positions back by doing community service. If more teachers and school officials took action the way this coach did, bullying in schools would decrease dramatically. Schools say that bullying will not be tolerated, but do they really mean that? School staff needs to speak up and do something about bullying instead of just letting it slide, they need to stand up and defend the right of their students to come to school and not feel threatened.
Self-harm, what is self-harm? Self-harm is by definition “The deliberate damage of body tissue.” Self-harm can take on many forms, such as hitting, burning, scratching, and most common, cutting. People who self harm say that they do it because the physical pain helps them to forget the emotional pain that they are feeling. Self-harm can affect anyone, male or female of any age, from a teenage girl being bullied in high school to big time celebrities like Johnny Depp and Demi Lovato, who have brought some much needed attention to the subject of self-harm, the best way to help prevent it is to inform people that it is a real thing that is happening. The rate of hospitalized self harm for people ages ten to twenty-four has increased by almost ten thousand from 2012 to 2013. On average, there are about one hundred fifty seven thousand cases of hospitalized self-harm each year, there are however many more cases of self-harm that are not accounted for, because they are not hospitalized. People who self-harm will often go to extreme lengths to cover up what they have done, from wearing long sleeved hoodies in summertime to lying and saying that their pet scratched them, even strategically placing the injuries in areas that would make the lies believable. When someone is bullied to the point of harming themselves, someone higher up than state government needs to get involved and do something about it.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers. In 2013, there were one thousand seven hundred forty five suicides, ages fifteen to nineteen, which is ninety more suicides than the previous year. Ninety might not seem like that high of a number, but when it comes to something as serious as suicide, just one victim is a tragedy. There are many causes of suicide other than bullying, but bullying is one of the main causes. In one story from the family of a twelve-year-old suicide victim, they said they had talked to school officials and were told the bullying would be addressed and it never was. This twelve-year-old girl took her own life because of bullying, and because the school did nothing about it. It is so sad to think that this little girl, along with many others who will never even get to see their teenage years, all because some people decided that they are going to be their targets. And that is just one of the many tragedies caused by suicide. In another story from the mother of an eleven-year-old boy who hung himself in a suicide attempt, she says that the young child never told her of his struggle with bullying in school. Teenagers and preteens are telling their parents less and less information about what is going on in life or at school, because they often feel as if they would not understand them. Suicide is a serious problem that is not discussed enough in the media, maybe if more attention is brought upon the subject then people will start caring and take action to stop the bullying before it is too late.
While bullying in schools is still the most common form of bullying, there is another form of bullying on the rise, cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is using any form of technology to harass someone. The internet “in addition to opening up positive new ways to communicate, it has also given rise to endless new ways to threaten, harass, abuse, insult, and bully others.” In some cases, cyberbullying can be worse than face-to-face bullying, because the victim cannot escape. Most teenagers have cell phones and have them with them all the time, so they cannot escape when someone is texting and harassing them. Eighty-seven percent of teenagers use the internet, and over half of them are online daily, and forty-two percent of teenagers say they have been cyberbullied. This means that everyday those forty-two percent of teenagers are logging on and getting those terrible and threatening messages. Probably the biggest question surrounding any topic like this is, why do they do it? Cyberbullying allows the bully to harass their victim anonymously, making it easier for the bully to get away with it. Oftentimes cyberbullying is used by the nerdy or unpopular children who have been bullied as a way to get revenge on the people who bullied them. Hiding behind a screen with a username gives the shy children, who would normally never speak up, or stand up to a bully, a certain confidence, and they can be just as mean as the person they are attacking, or sometimes they get out of control and take it too far. In one story of a young woman named Sherry, she was bullied at school, because she did not dress like the other girls, she was quiet, and she began to develop before the other girls. For her birthday, her parents got her a laptop, she quickly found where some boys from school posted things about her, calling her hot, and talking about what they wanted to do to her. Sherry began to feel afraid “What if they tried something they fantasized about on the website?” In this case, the boys did not understand that what they were posting would offend or hurt her, but it did. People just do not think about what they say online, because they do not think there will be consequences, and do not think there will be any. People need to think twice before posting anything about someone else online. Even if they do not realize the words could be harmful, they could be, and it is best to just not post anything about anyone else.
Bullying causes many physical, and psychological side effects for both the bully and the victims. Some physical side effects include, headaches, stomach pains, reduced appetite and nausea. Bullies are being so hateful to their victims that it is causing them to get physically ill, causing students to miss school, which once again is putting their education at risk. It is almost like punishing the victim and rewarding the bully, while coming to school may not seem like a reward, graduating on time definitely is. Some common psychological side effects are, anxiety, depression, irritability and aggression. These psychological symptoms do not only occur in victims of bullying, they also occur in bullies. Aggression is the most common psychological side effect found in bullies. Sixty percent of people who were bullies when they were younger have at least one criminal conviction by the age of twenty-four. Maybe if those bullies had been stopped and punished at a young age, they would not be in prison.
Depression is one of the most commonly seen psychological side effects in victims of bullying. Depression, by definition, is “changes in people’s emotions, behavior, and thought patterns.” Depression is a growing issue amongst teenagers. It is a very harmful mental disorder that the person has no control over. When a person has a stressful event in their life, such as bullying sometimes, the brain overreacts and makes too much of certain chemicals, causing the depression to set in. Oftentimes when people are depressed, they often will not tell anyone because the depression makes them feel like they are alone and like they have no one to talk to. Oftentimes people will get angry at people with depression, because they will not tell them what is wrong, but it is simply because the depression gets into their head and they feel as if no one really cares. Depression is not only harmful to the person struggling with the disorder, but also to that person's’ friends and family, because they want to help, but they often do not know how to. Depression is a difficult thing to understand, but whether or not people understand it, everyone should agree that it is a terrible thing, and something needs to be done about it.
Anxiety is another one of the most commonly found psychological effects of bullying. Anxiety, by definition is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear.” Anxiety is caused by hormones produced in the brain similar to the ones produced in a fight or flight situation. These hormones cause the person to have an anxiety or panic attack. Common signs and symptoms of anxiety attacks are, having trouble concentrating, feeling jumpy or tense, irritability, restlessness, feeling as if the mind has gone blank, irregular heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, and insomnia. And that is just some of the more common symptoms, there are many more possible side effects of an anxiety disorder. Eight percent of teenagers have an anxiety disorder, and only eighteen percent of those teenagers have received mental health treatment. Anxiety, much like depression, causes feelings of being alone and feeling as if no one cares, so commonly someone struggling with an anxiety disorder will not seek help. There have been instances where a student would be having an anxiety attack during a class and would still refuse to go to the nurse. Mental disorders are truly a horrible thing that unfortunately so many teenagers and young adults suffer from, and while there are other causes of these disorders, bullying is one of the main causes. This means that those numbers could drop drastically if there were laws to prevent it.
Should the federal government put laws in place to prevent bullying and punish bullies? So many teenagers and young children are struggling with bullying issues, and it is leaving permanent damage behind for both the victim and the bully. Bullying causes short term physical illnesses and lifelong mental illnesses. This generation of teenagers and young adults have more depression, anxiety and self-harm than all other generations before. The laws that states have put in place are not doing any good in reducing these rates, because they are not enforced as they should be. Schools need to actually be a bullying free zone and teachers need to stand up for their students. Life as a teenager is hard enough with school and trying to figure out what to do after high school, and dealing with bullying and the many side effects of that only makes it that much harder. It is the federal government’s job to fill in the blank spaces that the state government’s have, and bullying is a very big blank that is drawn in most states.