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STATES CHRONICLE – Could it? Could bullying be a normal part of childhood? There’s no need to question it! A National Academies of Sciences report cuts to the chase and bluntly writes: no! “Bullying is not a normal part of childhood.” It’s “a serious health problem” that should be treated with education and prevention, not with zero-tolerance practices.
Although a National Center for Education Statistics from the official Justice Department report on school crime suggests bullying levels are considerably down compared to what it was almost a decade ago, the percentages are still worrying.
The recently released report says bullying is likely to affect up to 31% of kids in schools and up to 15% of youngsters in cyberbullying.
The data is not clear enough to determine if shootings and suicide are caused by bullying, but it does state that children who are targets of bullying and the bullies themselves are more likely to think about or try to commit suicide. Even popular kids appeal to bullying to maintain their status amongst the others.
The aggressive behavior of bullying brings the bullies and their victims both long and short-term consequences such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, alcohol and drug abuse problems and, of course, poor grades.
The negative impact of bullying just cannot be ignored.
These kids, both the abused and the abusers carry out into adulthood the consequences of this extreme negative behavior and become later the adult troublemakers.
Bullying shouldn’t be treated with very punitive measures like expelling; extreme measures have never worked, but trying to put victim and abuser face to face and make them solve the conflict by themselves can also backfire and cause even further harm.
We need to teach tolerance, to learn to accept and get along with others different from us, suggests Sarah Graham, a UCLA professor, and a report committee member. There is no “one size fits all” solution to the “national health problem” of bullying, but all evidence points first to preventive measures and second to interventional policies and practices.
Let’s not add to the high prevalence of bullying by thinking and treating bullying as a normal part of childhood. Instead, remember both bullies and bullied have emotional problems that need to be dealt with attention and patience.
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