When I look back on that incident, I thank my lucky stars I wasn’t a more self-conscious 12-year-old. That one moment in time surely could have been crippling, destroying my fragile pre-teen body image and self-esteem. I credit wonderful parents and mentors for equipping me with an elastic ego, but I know many aren’t so fortunate.
Unfortunately bullying can happen to anyone — young or old — and at virtually any time, and ranges from verbal to physical harassment to cyberbullying. And the consequences can be dire. According to stopbullying.gov, children who are bullied can experience negative physical, academic and mental health issues like health complaints, decreased classroom performance, and mental illness that may persist into adulthood.
In fact, the website sites that “a very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System: 2011 National Overview 16.2 percent of students had been electronically bullied, including being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, web sites, or texting, during the 12 months before the survey. A total of 20.1 percent of students had been bullied on school property during the 12 months before the survey.
With October deemed “National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month,” take time to consider how your treatment of others effects them. Within each of us is the potential to uplift and heal, instead of demean and break.
If tempted to bully, think again. If witnessing bullying, intervene or seek help from authorities. If bullying, stop — your actions have lifelong, sometimes permanent consequences. If being bullied, seek help — know you are not alone.
For more information on bullying visit stopbullying.gov.
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