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Approximately 100,000 students miss schools daily due to fear of intimidation or attack by other children (Fastje, 2012). Over the course of a year, nearly 25% of students in the United States report that they have been bullied or harassed in school because of gender, religion, disability, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation. Those who experience bullying or are bullied are about five times more likely to be depressed and commit suicide (Trump, 2011). Victims of bullying may also harm the bullies.
Bullying in school causes extreme pain to victims especially if it involves physical contact between the victim and the perpetrators (Rigby, 2007). Pain that does not heal immediately may cause long-lasting trauma (McGrath, 2007). Psychological trauma has far reaching consequences on the bullied child. Victims who suffer psychological trauma following repeated bullying at school may commit suicide. For example, Curtis Taylor, who was a middle school pupil in Iowa, committed suicide on 21st March 1993 after being bullied daily for three years. Besides committing suicide, bullying may also lead to retaliation by the victim.
The victims may sometimes consider revenge as their only way out. Revenge may take any form. However, more often it ends in bloody fights (Stroh, 2007). In the recent past, bullying has become one of the leading causes of school violence and shootings witnessed in nations such as the United States and other developed countries. The most prominent incident of a school shooting was the massacre which occurred at Columbia High School in Colorado, where one teacher and twelve students were shot and killed by two students who had been intensely bullied (Stroh, 2007). The victims can also stab the perpetrators using sharp objects such as knives. Those who bully others may also become psychologically disturbed and might commit suicide in an attempt to avoid the trauma. The psychological injury lowers the quality of life of the victim. Suicidal ideation is not a pleasant feeling for the victim. The distress may lead some to seek help while others carry out the content of their thought.
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Bullying lowers teenagers’ self-esteem. Most of the bullied children are likely to suffer from various disorders such as depression which can adversely lower the victims' self-esteem (Field, 2007). Low-self-esteem diminishes the victim’s sense of self-worth. If the problem is not recognized early and the victim counseled, it may end in adverse events like suicide. Bullied children feel ashamed, afraid, and pitiful because they believe what the bully says about them is true. For example, if a bully tells a female child that she is foolish and ugly; the child may internalize and view adverse comments as true. As a consequence, the child experiences low self-esteem and loss of confidence. Suicide may appear to be the only option for such a child (Field, 2007). Bullies rely on convincing their victims that they are helpless. The feeling of helplessness allows the bully to control the victim.
Bullying causes too much turmoil across many countries. Students should be sensitive to the feelings of their classmates. Confronting bullies and discouraging sexual and racial slurs, name-calling, and teasing are some of the practical ways to prevent many children from losing self-esteem. However, if students are not capable of standing for their classmates, this cruelty might not end and will continue to cause loss of innocent lives through suicide.
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Fastje, S. (2012). Bully in the mirror: Making hate stop when you don't think you can. Cork: BookBaby.
Field, E., M. (2007). Bully blocking: Six secrets to help children deal with teasing and bullying. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
McGrath, M. J. (2007). School bullying: Tools for avoiding harm and liability. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
Rigby, K. (2007). Bullying in schools and what to do about it. Melbourne, Vic: ACER.
Stroh, L. K. (2007). Trust rules: How to tell the good guys from the bad guys in work and life. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Trump, K. S. (2011). Proactive school security and emergency preparedness planning. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin.
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