Think for a minute, have you ever considered inflicting self-harm? Unfortunately, our youth have. Within the Central Ohio, community children are taking their own lives at a rate that’s much too high. Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior between school-aged children that encompasses a physical or perceived power imbalance. Many people don’t realize how serious bullying is. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the statistics. In recent years bullying has taken a turn for the worse. We not only have to worry about the classical route of bullying but cyberbullying too; which in of itself has grown to shocking numbers due to the increase in accessibility to technology amongst youth. What’s more important, the mental health of our children? Their physical health? Eating and sleeping patterns? Or how about their personal progress, achievements, and self-esteem?
Victims of bullying struggle to adequately balance or maintain any of these because of how mentally and physically destructive it is towards their development. Many people believe that bullying is just a part of life, something we all go through no matter the severity of the situation. That kind of mindset is precisely what allows bullying to conceal exactly how detrimental it really is, and that kind of mindset is exactly what we need to wipe away from the earth. With the right leadership and education, we can assure the overall health of our youth and their development because that is the most important thing to take away from this paper. In recent years bullying has expanded quite rapidly. According to an article written by John Sauter it states that “half of today’s teenagers have reported being the target of online bullying, and 10 to 20 percent of the Center’s survey respondents indicated that they are regular targets of cyberbullying”. But that’s only one side of the statistics. According to a study from Ohio’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Data Summary, “In the 2014-2015 school year 13,939 students were suspended or expelled and during the 2015-2016 school year 15,010 students were suspended or expelled for harassment, intimidation, and bullying/unwelcome sexual conduct.” And to think, this isn’t taking unreported cases into account. A majority of victims don’t come forward to address the harassment. “Kids who told me that they don’t trust their parents or their schools to take away the pain and properly address a crisis.”
However, as of lately, bullying has gained an increase in media attention due to the rise in homicide and suicide rates where bullying was the leading factor, giving the victims a voice. According to Doran (2016) “Columbus Grove began an anonymous, online program that students can use to tell an administrator something. The administrators get those reports and can follow up on them.” Victims come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of if you’re black, white or any color in between, if you’re Christian, Buddhist or Muslim, your sexual orientation, or if you happen to be overweight or underweight; doesn’t matter, you can be a victim. Victims are generally those who show signs that they happen to be intelligent, creative, have few or no friends, deal with disabilities, or show personal weakness, none of which deserve that kind of treatment. What goes unnoticed is that the effects of bullying even affect parents. Parents look at their child and wish he or she could be better than the bully. In the Hear Me Now article a parent was quoted saying “One of those kids that you just kind of wish your kid was like. Incredibly talented and gifted." Parents who feel ashamed because their kids aren’t “as good” or “aren’t like” the others are victims of bullying too. Yet bullies don’t realize the state they put these innocent people in by criticizing them about things that are out of their control. Research has shown that bullying causes the victim to go into a state of depression, suffer from anxiety, fail at school, and have low self-esteem amongst a list of other harmful consequences that ascend from victimization. The most crucial of which happens to be self-harm, suicide or even homicide in some cases due to the fact that bullying also affects the bully. There have been countless cases of an individual who got bullied to the point where they decide to bring a firearm to school and take the life of their bully along with many others. For example Virginia Tech or even the Columbine shooting. Both due to mental illness likely caused by years and years of abuse. According to an article by Columbus Bureau, “suicide rates in the U.S. increased almost steadily from 1999 to 2017 and in Ohio, it is the second leading cause of death for youths age 12 to 18.”
To further help describe the pain and suffering, while reading through one of my articles I found a quote from a 13-year-old bullying victim who said “It’s like I’m a punching bag. I hate it they call me slut and whore and I’m sick of it. They even say worse words than that and it makes me want to kill myself bad because I can’t take it anymore and I don’t think it will ever change.” People can handle only a certain amount of pressure before allowing their emotions to get the best of them; causing them to act out irrationally. This constant fluctuation in mood can directly affect an individual’s ability to find happiness, succeed in school, and they’re left with this constant fear of being victimized often leading to substance abuse. Bullying alone isn’t what’s causing these results. Bullying combined with depression, torment, and difficulties at home are what leads individuals to self-harm. It is urgent that we show the magnitude of this threat in a swift action. The youth is our future. A crucial necessity for a healthy future is one filled with wholesome, strong, stable individuals because the key to good health is a good mind. Bullying is crippling the future leaders of not only our great nation but our beloved Columbus Ohio. Bullying never goes away. The victims are left damaged by the years of torment they faced because the emotional and mental scars are things that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. And every day the number continues to rise. We are moving into a digital era where people hide behind a screen and dedicate their lives to putting people in a state of distress. Our children are forgetting their worth and the value of life. In 2018 alone, the suicide rate in Columbus shot up a staggering 38%.
We need to act quickly because every day we wait that’s another life we lose, or another innocent child subjected to a life of agony and depression just because we were too ignorant to look at the facts. Bullying is a very serious issue that’s overstayed its welcome. Essentially giving our youth a loving and nurturing environment is crucial to the development of our country. No matter our differences we all bleed red. A child’s innocence shouldn’t be affected by the cruel actions of others.