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Monday, October 28, 2013

Bullying Is Not On The Rise And It Does Not Lead To Suicide

Every other month or so a story about a child bullied until he or she commits suicide rises into our national consciousness.

This month it’s Rebecca Sedwick from Lakeland, Fla.

Before that it was Gabrielle Molina of Queens. And before that it Asher Brown.

All suicides are tragic and complicated. And teen suicides are particularly devastating because as adults we recognize all that lost potential.

Yet, in perpetuating these stories, which are often little more than emotional linkbait, journalists are complicit in a gross oversimplification of a complicated phenomenon. In short, we’re getting the facts wrong.

The common narrative goes like this: Mean kids, usually the most popular and powerful, single out and relentlessly bully a socially weaker classmate in a systemic and calculated way, which then drives the victim into a darkness where he or she sees no alternative other than committing suicide.

And yet experts – those who study suicide, teen behavior and the dynamics of cyber interactions of teens – all say that the facts are rarely that simple. And by repeating this inaccurate story over and over, journalists are harming the public’s ability to understand the dynamics of both bullying and suicide.



Anonymous said...

The most economically viable approach will always be the path taken.

Anonymous said...

Ever since the press started harping on bullying, I have not seen one story that takes a positive side of this activity. And there IS a positive side.
I was physically bullied in school around the 7th grade - especially by one guy. I was, that is, until I finally had enough, overcame my fear, and hit him back. I broke his nose. No more bullying.
I always looked at that jerk as a character-builder of my youth. I learned two important lessons:
1. Never BE a bully to someone weaker - or to anybody for that matter.
2. Never just sit back and take it. Stand up for yourself - fight back.
Dealing with those types of people is a rite of passage. Sometimes I feel that today's generation is WAY too protected.

Andy Berges said...

I researched the subject of bullying and wrote a couple articles on the topic and know that bullying is a form of abuse that has a toxic effect is to both their physical and mental health. Victims have a much greater risk of developing depression, panic attacks, anxiety, agoraphobia, PTSD, and other mental disorders than those who are not bullied. This applies to both children in schools, as well as adults in their workplaces. There is a fine line between sanity & insanity and in many cases bullied employees are the primary reason why we read so many stories of people going “postal” at their places of employment.

The solution is for children, AND adults, being bullied to muster up the courage to defend themselves against & stand up to these cowardly bullies in order to extinguish the abuse. Not doing so can be deadly. This especially applies to workers who are parents because it would be hypocritical of them to not tolerate their children to be bullied at their schools if they themselves tolerate being bullied at their workplaces.

Anonymous said...

People who feel that bullying is acceptable behavior need to have their head examined. It is not difficult to raise your children to be kind, compassionate human beings.

Anonymous said...

You're as right as rain 1:02am. Big bullies always try their big mouth threatening routine, and falsely assume that it will always work. Offer them them a chit chat outside, or if they've overstepped their bounds, thump em on the spot, don't wait. Action is always a better course of reaction, in a battle of to many threatening words. Skip the talkie, hook em up and knock em out. My intent, once I made a split second decission, was always, I'm gonna beat this _______to death. It was always funny to see how quickly bully boy, turned into crybaby blubber cups. Of course, I always stopped short, because the killer part of me was just momentary, thank God. Don't give it and don't take it, none of them are to big.

Andy Berges said...

I totally agree with 9:10.

In most (but not all) cases, behind a child who is a physically and/or verbally abusive bully you will discover that he/she has 1 or both parents that are physically and/or verbally abusive bullies who bully their children.

Anonymous said...

Everything has a cost associated with it.One must stand back to take in the enormity of this topic.The resources to address it properly are simply not available in all jurisdictions.Each case has it's own specific ingredients that make it unique.Definatley not a one size fits all approach package.

Anonymous said...

Has Laura Bush disappeared from the face of the earth? What about No Child Left Behind? That was a total failure.Is the bullying issue designed to take attention away from that? Is there anything wrong with fixing one problem before moving on to another? If the NCLB problem was resolved the bullying issue would be at least partially eliminated.Think about it.