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Bullying: As Bad As Domestic Violence

The issue of bullying is all over the news and internet.

This is far more damaging than the bullying of the past, with social media, texting, sexting and all the other current ways that kids can hurt other kids. Because children of violent homes are so used to meanness and uncaring behaviors, they act-out their own miseries on others they are envious of or those they find easy to intimidate, which somehow lessens their own rage at the expense of others.  How very, very sad!

Socialcide™ , my next book, will explore this issue in great detail.  But for now, parents, what are you doing?  Kids from stable, supportive, safe and loving homes are not the bullies!  Ask yourselves, “What is going on in my home that is causing my child to bully others?”

A recent Duke University study has found that the effects of bullying are long-lasting and contribute to many mental health issues.

This is not just about being beat-up, it’s about intimidation, internet-provocation and slander. Children have not developed the necessary coping mechanisms to effectively manage meanness yet, and the damage being done by dysfunctional children from dysfunctional homes is beginning to be seen as epidemic.

The Duke study interviewed 1,400 kids between the ages of 9 and 16 about their social lives, then re-interviewed them between the ages of 19 and 26.  What was found was that bullying victims were four times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than those who had never been bullied. It gets worse. The bulliers were four times more likely to have an Anti-Social Personality Disorder!*  For the novices, people with anti-social personality disorders are the serial killers, rapists, thieves, abusers, liars, cheats and all of those other lovely things we are seeing more and more of these days.

Those kids who were both bullied and the bullier turned out to be 14 times more likely to have depression and/or an anxiety disorder according to William Copeland on Slate.com.  Copeland sees this trend as the way he does “abuse in the home,” and something that is “very detrimental with long-lasting effects.”

Well….YEAH!  The problem is determined, and the results are seen, but what needs to be done to make it stop?  Schools can only do so much, but not everything.  Social Media and electronic communication is a very large part of the bullying issue.  We are a nation that cannot afford to allow our kids to do what they want on-line or via texting!  Parents often tell me in my practice that they are comforted by their kids having cell phones so they can keep in touch or in case of any emergencies their kids may have.  Perhaps.  But attention must be paid to their interactions with others through these devices.  

Kids, many times, don’t tell their parents about being bullied.  However, they will post or text this information to friends.  Healthy families cannot stop children from unhealthy families from harassing or intimidating their kids.  However, parents must educate their kids and encourage them to inform parents, teachers, coaches, clergy people, or any trusted adult as to what they are facing if being bullied!  What should parents look for?

Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied include:

  • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings.
  • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches.
  • Has few if any friends with whom he or she spends time.
  • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs).
  • Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school.
  • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school.
  • Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home.
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachache, or other physical ailments.
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
  • Experiences a loss of appetite.
  • Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem.

If you see any of these signs, ask your child if anyone is bothering them at school, on-line, or anywhere else.  Keep lines of communication open, and never ignore the possibility.  If your child is bullying, look at your home-life!  Do not enable the bullying to continue by buying into your child’s excuses!  Enforce consequences, and work on whatever issues may be causing discord in the home.  Work with the school, and never against them!

It is time to stop this madness, and provide all children with the best possibility of a happy life that we can!

* Sources: dukehealth.orgneatoday.org

Read more posts by Leo Battenhausen, MSW, addiction and mental health counselor.  Leo is a blogger for JenningsWire.