Bullying and a New School Year 2013

Boy with backpack sadEvery time around this year, I think of all the children returning to school or getting ready to return. I also think about those dreading that time or that will dread it after suffering with bullies during the year. Certainly, 2013 has seen more and more press about bullying. Certainly, more awareness is around today and the community rules and laws are starting to change.

2013 also saw the release of the major documentary “Bully” in movie theaters and a movement toward a reaction of less acceptance of bullying behavior. These are all positive things, but as seen in the movie “Bully” and in the news about kids being bullied and bullycide due to bullying, there is still much to do.

Further to the issue is the one that is the theme of this site, the long-term effects of bullying. More studies are showing that adults suffer from the bullying they either received or did during their informative school years. Just today, NPR released an article called “Kids Involved in Bullying Grow Up To Be Poorer, Sicker Adults”.

In the article, the author, Nancy Shute, discusses the research done recently at Duke University that shows that kids that dealt with bullying have more health, financial, and job issues as they mature. The article quotes researcher William Copeland’s findings.

“These kids are continuing to have significant problems in their lives, years after the bullying has stopped,” says William Copeland, an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine and a co-author of the study, which was published in Psychological Science. “It really is a significant public health concern.”

…Researchers tested the health of 1,273 children ages 9 to 13 in western North Carolina, starting back in 1993. Participants were assessed annually until age 16, and then at 19, 21, and 24 to 26 years old. Parents were also asked whether their child had been involved in bullying…

About one-quarter of the children said they had been bullied. Another 8 percent said they had bullied others. And 6 percent said they had been on both the sending and receiving end.

Victims of bullying were more likely to have problems as adults, and were more likely to smoke, use marijuana, or consider themselves to be in poor health.

Former bullies didn’t fare much better from the study data and as has already been discussed here. These long-term effects also include mental disorders as has been discussed in other studies as well. There is a fine line between physical and mental health and this problem works on both ends.

So, at the end of the day and as we enter to another school year, I hope that more notice will be taken to the children around us. Do you see and ignore it, because you still feel kids are being kids? Studies are showing that then kids become adults who then are suffering. As we start another year, I hope you will remember that these long-term effects are showing to be real and that we must work to resolve and recover the bullied and the bullies so that they can have a more productive adult life after the bullying ends.

3 thoughts on “Bullying and a New School Year 2013

  1. Oh yes, another excellent article. When I first started reading your column, I thought (and in a “stories” posting wrote) that, though I’d suffered from bullying and ostracism in grade school, I was long past most its effects. After all, I can stand in front of a political rally and give a rousing fund appeal, I can “work a room” as a museum publicist, I can give a powerful, enticing reading from my books, am no longer shy. And yet . . .
    And yet I am often surprised when people are friendly and when they offer help. And when I step up to welcome museum donors, I am amazed that they don’t ignore, but instead smile delightedly, on my approach. And when I ask a favor and someone says of course . . .
    I could go, line by line, through your list of voyage fears, adding my own fears of being late for work, of entering a new group, of staying overnight with any group, and generally of managing social norms. This, even though I once lived abroad where, at first, I didn’t know the language, and came to love it.
    And the matter of income–the fear to ask higher fees for my freelance editing, fear to send out a new novel for publication), fear to seek better-paying jobs.
    In all of this, the early ostricisms and bullying (and the demands and limitations put on women in the years when I was growing up) did their teachings nearly too well.

    • Paula:
      You always say so much with your comments and I appreciate it so much. It is hard for others to understand that many of us are still surprised that we are treated well by others after suffering abuse. I still believe in the “perceived threat syndrome” I deal with and my family tells me often that I am mistaken that their comments to me are not threats, but just that, comments. I want to distinguish better, but still struggle with understanding how people are not cruel and can be very giving. I see many with the same issues. Thank you for sharing yours.

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