The CDC says 4,400 deaths per year are caused by suicide. That’s 4,400 wives, husbands, daughters, and sons who will never be seen again; the only relics of their lives are the hurt souls of their loved ones and the photos of their drained faces. These 4,400 will never hear another “I love you” or see another rainbow; these 4,400 people will never have the chance to be happy. If this isn’t terrifying enough, the CDC states that over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. According to Yale University, bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. As bullying continues to occur, the numbers will continue to rise. The suffering needs to end. In order to ensure the safety and success of students globally, parents, school staff, and other adults must aid kids in the prevention of bullying.
This issue was brought to my attention in the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian when 14-year-old Junior, a poverty-stricken Spokane Indian, is bullied constantly. As a young child, Junior is bullied because of his hydrocephalus which causes his big head, lisp, stutter, and body structure. Fearing his safety, he avoids public events. When he attends Reardan, an all-white high school, he is bullied for being an Indian living on the reservation; he is also bullied at Wellpinit, the reservation school, for leaving the tribe to go to Reardan. Junior has become accustomed to the bullying so much so, that he doesn’t start with his name or age, he starts with his disease. This reveals a lot about how he views himself as an individual in response to the bullying he’s received. To avoid negative self-image in students, parents, school staff, and other adults should help kids prevent bullying.
Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and at home. Students should not have to fear what their next battle will be as they creep into the building on a Monday morning. Approximately 32% of schoolchildren across 38 countries have reported feeling this way. Specifically, they report experiences of peer victimization and subsequent emotional distress. 10% of these children may develop self-harming behavior. “The Association between Deliberate Self-Harm and School Bullying Victimization and the Mediating Effect of Depressive Symptoms and Self-Stigma: A Systematic Review” says “Bullying victims experience severe emotional distress associated with the psychological and physical violence they are subjected to.” Not only will these kids be harmed physically and emotionally by others in their day to day lives; they have also resorted to harming themselves. These students feel as though they are not good enough, that they do not deserve a good life because that’s what they have been taught by their bullies. Moreover, students have described their bullying experiences to result in a negative self-image and decreasing self-esteem. This combined with perceived weakness and rejection by peers is just a glimpse of the daily life of a bully victim. Consequently, these actions result in self stigma- the belief that you are weak or damaged due to depression. This mental illness not only adds to a negative self-image, but also urges the child to perceive themselves as weak if they accept help. This sends them in a downward spiral of depression which can also affect their performance at school.
Bullying in a student’s life can negatively affect their learning in multiple ways. Gary Ladd, a psychology professor at Arizona State University, conducted a long-term experiment on the academic achievement throughout school students; 24% of them happened to be chronically bullied. The 24% were consistently related to lower academic achievement and lower engagement in their classes. This was also found to be true with a study conducted in 2014 by Tine Louise Mundbjerg Eriksen, who analyzed the relationship between bullying and academic achievement in a Denmark elementary school. She found that the victims display lower academic achievement as the severity of the bullying increases. Coming from two very different parts of the world, it is easy to see that bullying is a global issue for many students. The victims of bullying are so concentrated on keeping themselves safe, that they forget to memorize the Pythagorean theorem or label their human anatomy diagram. Additionally, Nadine Block found that bullied students feel unmotivated to attend school due to the consistent bullying: “Yet, social and emotional factors can play a big part in the student’s ability to succeed. The way in which students perceive themselves, as well as how others perceive them can determine the motivation for bullying and the consistency of it.” This statement ties directly to my previous claim about self-perception; if students are focusing on their negative self-image, they are less focused on assignments, tests, and overall success. This ties directly to the mental health of students in my previous claim which reveals just how crucial it is that we prevent bullying in school settings.
Some may argue that we are already doing plenty to prevent bullying in schools. Since 2006, The PACER Center in Minneapolis has run the National Bullying Prevention Center which teaches students, parents, and schools about the effects of bullying. Studies have found that bullying prevention programs can decrease bullying by 20 percent. Although a great first step in prevention, there is still a lot of improvement necessary in this area. Recent surveys continue to show high rates of bullying in schools and among young people which ultimately lead to psychological issues in victims. Bullying is still occurring, and needs approached in different ways because the National Bullying Prevention Center hasn’t proven to be enough. In order to prevent bullying, we must teach kids its effects and how to react as a victim or bystander. Unfortunately, with numbers on the rise, it is necessary to include bullying as a part of curriculum in all schools in order to see prevalent results. This could be the difference in a student’s safety and success which is what school is all about.
It is clear that bullying is a prevalent issue on a global scale. It is necessary to aid students in the prevention of bullying in order ensure their academic success as well as their physical and emotional safety. Negative self-image, the fear of safety, and the depletion in academic success of victims needs to come to an end. Although there are organizations to minimize bullying, it has not been enough to prevent it. By including a mandatory bullying curriculum in schools, we would be teaching students what bullying is and how to respond to it. The suffering of these victims will not be reversed but if acted upon now, we can reduce the 4,400 suicides experienced every year.
Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2007.
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Association, American Psychological. School Bullying Linked to Lower Academic Achievement. 1 April 2017. 28 February 2019.
Block, Nadine. The Impact of Bullying on Academic Success for Students With and Without Exceptionalities. 26 November 2014. March 2019. .
Karanikola, Maria N. K. The Association between Deliberate Self-Harm and School Bullying Victimization and the Mediating Effect of Depressive Symptoms and Self-Stigma: A Systematic Review. 11 October 2018. 1 March 2019.
stopBullying. 28 September 2017. 28 February 2019.