Ohio shooting and the effects of bullying on kids

A huge pet peeve of mine is the saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

This is the furthest thing from the truth, and honestly, many times, words hurt worse than anything physical ever could. Ask me for specific times I scraped my knee as a kid, and I couldn’t tell you. But I could tell you, in detail, the times words have hurt me.

Words hold so much power that bullying has, literally, become a life and death situation.

TJ Lane, 17, who shot and killed three of his classmates in Ohio, was reportedly a victim of bullying. His court appearance did not solve the mysteries behind his motive for the shooting.
This has been one case of many related to bullying.

The Huffington Post reports Kevin Jacobsen took his life near the one-year anniversary of his son's bullying-related suicide. Tyler Clementi killed himself in 2010 after his roommate at Rutgers University filmed him kissing another man. Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old girl who moved to the U.S. from Ireland, killed herself the same year after being bullied by high school classmates in Massachusetts. Family said that the relentless bullying was to blame for the suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Cummings from Staten Island.

According to a study by the Family and Work Institute, one-third of youth are bullied at least once a month.Bullying is a form of abuse, and it makes me sick to my stomach to think so many kids are being subjected to this on a daily basis.

There have been people who say the media tries too hard to focus on bullying as a cause of suicide when there is an underlying mental disorder. But, to me, being constantly attacked for the person you are really doesn't help. I could compare it to smoking. If you are suseptible to cancer, yeah, smoking doesn't help you. But even if no one in your family has ever had cancer, you don't have cancer in your genes, and you smoke, you still could get cancer. While someone susceptible to depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies will probably have those feelings brought out by bullying, bullying could also cause those feelings in someone with no history of any of those things.

To me, that's what bullying is like -- a tumor, like feeling like you can't breathe and your blood vessels are hardening and your lungs are turning black. Except for bullying, the victims can't control it. Being taunted every day is bound to make anyone not think to clearly, to turn into somebody they wouldn't normally be.

I encourage any parent who ever hears that their child is bullying another child to have a serious talk. I don't care if it takes grounding them to get them to listen to you. I have heard parents say that it's just normal child behavior and that there's nothing they can do to stop it. After all, parents aren't there on the playground when little Johnny is beating up a classmate and calling him names.

I know it's hard to think your child is a bully, but if you find out, addressing it can save someone's life. It's no longer about "He or she will grow out of it," because by the time that happens, if it happens (because a lot of children carry these behaviors into adulthood and into the work place), it may be too late.

Talk to a school counselor or teacher to see if your child is having problems in school. Ask for advice about how your child can work through this problem. Talk to your child. Ask why he or she is doing this. Discuss the consequences. Explain what it feels like to be bullied, and try to build empathy in your child. And also, take a hard look at see if your child is being bullied at home because many bullies have also been bullied.

If your child is the one being bullied, talk to a teacher or to the principal. Don't be afraid to tell a teacher who the bully is. Involve your child in outside activities, and teach your child self-confidence and how to walk away from a bullying situation. And, if there is no anti-bullying policy in your school, either try to raise awareness yourself or move your child to a school with anti-bullying awareness.

For more information, visit The National Crime Prevention Council.

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