Cyberbullying – Ryan Halligan’s Story

The stories I tell of my bullying were before the era of Cyberbullying, the new type. This type of bullying might be even more damaging, because of how quickly a cyberbully can get information into the hands of the masses.

Ryan Halligan

I was touched to read the story of Ryan Patrick Halligan. His parents have created a site dedicated to his story and have shared his story on the site and their feelings as well. I’m sure it was tough to write and create this site, and I applaud the parents for sharing their personal story in the hopes of helping others.

On their site, they write:

In December 2002, the bullying problem surfaced again to a significant level. There was an evening that month when he just had a melt down … a very tearful session at the kitchen table. We thought 7th grade was going fine but discovered he was bottling up a lot of bad experiences during the first few months.  Again, it was the same kid and his friends that bullied him on and off since the 5th grade. They were tormenting him again and he said he hated going to school, that he never wanted to go back there. He asked that night if we could move or home school him.

I was torn between wanting to be his bodyguard all day and feeling he needed to (again) learn how to manage the situation as a part of growing up. We sat at the kitchen table discussing our options that evening. We explained that moving in the middle of the winter was not a good time and home schooling was not an option because Mom worked part-time. I said, “That’s it Ryan. I had enough. Let’s take it to the principal and have him put a stop to it once and for all.” To that, Ryan exclaimed, “No dad, please don’t do that. They will only make it worse. I see it happen all the time.” Instead Ryan asked that we help him learn how to fight so he can “beat the heck” out of this kid if he or his 8th grade friends tried to jump Ryan.

This story is so familiar to me. In many ways it parallels my days being bullied and the feelings I had. Also, I have a son that struggles through school and worry about his being labelled and how that will affect him. I watch carefully for signs that he is being bullied, but have not seen any issues as of yet. He is 13.

Please read the rest of Ryan’s story at the link I included here. It certainly touched me.

New Study Has Alarming Bullying Rates

Researchers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Standford University School of Medicine have recently finished a study on bullying that has alarming statistics. In the study, it concluded that 9 out of 10 elementary students on average have been bullied by their peers.

Wow! That is a scary statistic. The article also discusses the studies other conclusions, which are even more alarming, about the damage that bullying and being a bully can do to the children.

“We know that both bullies and victims tend to suffer higher levels of depression and other mental health problems throughout their lives,” says child psychiatrist Tom Tarshis, lead author of the study and director of the Bay Area Children’s Association. “We need to change the perception that bullying at school is a part of life and that victims just need to toughen up.”

. . .The stakes are high. Previous research has shown that, without intervention, bullying behavior persists over time: a child who is a bully in kindergarten is often a bully in elementary school, high school and beyond. Such behaviors are not without consequence, though. These career bullies are not only slightly more likely than their peers to serve prison time as adults, they also tend to suffer from depression.

The survey is published in the April 2007 issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. These questions were answered by 270 children in grades three through six in California and Arizona. It would be good to see a wider spread survey in more areas, but certainly, the statistics continue to tell a disturbing story.

Bullies, Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You!

I hear the song now.

“Bullies, bullies, whatcha gonna do. Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

It’s the new theme song to the reality TV show “Bully Cops”. No, it’s not currently in production, but it could be as the United Kingdom creates a new police patrol that is set to crack down on bullying and violence. Now, I don’t know why, but when I do bully searches on the internet, it seems like the majority of stories come out of England. I have certainly heard stories of terrible bullying in England, and it seems to be getting worse.

Maybe a police patrol is a good idea.  But not everyone is happy with it.

Some children’s charities object to the idea, claiming that it “criminalises” children for minor incidents. In recent months, an 11-year-old boy spent three hours in a police cell after he brandished a plastic toy gun at a schoolmate.

But Mr Brown believes the benefits outweigh the concerns and is keen to expand pilot schemes, rolling the idea out across the country. He points to the fact that the Youth Justice Board has found that those schools that have drafted in police officers have prevented an average of 40 incidents per year.

Now maybe that’s a start, but what continues to bother me about many of these articles is the lack of “next step” thinking. Yes, police will help. But the kids who are bullies and the kids who are bullied need support programs to help them cope mentally as well. They need to be talked to and programs need to be created that try to stop bullying, not just bust the bullies.

How are we teaching adults to talk to children about bullying? What support programs are being offered to families who need to cope with a child’s physical and mental injuries from bullying? I am finding few articles that deal with these issues.