• Dr. Bill Walker

Stop School Bullying – NOW!

I watched a video on social media recently. [1] It was of a 13 year old girl named Sarah Nicole. who was being bullied at school.

This story, like others like it, puts a face on school bullying and how young people can be harmed by it.

Sarah shares some of the comments that were regularly made to her by her peers at school:

‘No one cares about you’

‘No one loves you’

‘No one will ever care about you’

‘No one will ever love you’

‘You should just drop dead’

‘You should kill yourself’

‘The world would be better off without you’

Sarah Nicole’s mother is a single parent, with no apparent involvement from the father. Knowing this, Sarah’s peers made comments to her like,

‘Who would want to be your dad’

‘I can see why he left you’

‘He probably hates you!’

The Breaking Point

Sarah Nicole finally reached a point where she broke down from the daily abuse.

Her mother stated,

“As we were leaving the school my daughter began to tell me what happened hysterically with tears dripping from her face, she said "I can't do this anymore, I can't take anymore, I hate myself."”

Is it any wonder why so many teens kill themselves every year?

The Center for Disease Control reports that 4,400 young people commit suicide each year in the U.S. Just as disturbing, for every one suicide completed, 100 more teens attempt suicide, but do not complete the attempt. [2] Bullied young people are 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide compared to the non-bullied, and a study out of Britian foubd “at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying”. [2]

These statistics and finding should greatly disturb us all.

Even worse, Sarah’s story represents what goes on, no doubt, hundreds of thousands of times a day across schools throughout this country.

In an average year, around 56 million children will be enrolled in public and private schools in the U.S.A. [3] The opportunities for bullying are astronomical – 56 million opportunities a day, five days a week..

Bullying can do terrible harm to kids. It is a weapon that injures the self-concept, self-esteem and soul of a still developing young person.

4 Takeaways About Bullying

Emotional Abuse Often Leads To Physical Abuse

Sarah Nicole stated that in addition to the verbal abuse, her classmates also engaged in physical abuse. One male student pushed her halfway down a flight of stairs while calling her derogatory names, and a female classmate had recently pushed her to the ground.

It’s the Motive That Matters

Kids need to be able to play and roughhouse (within reasonable limits). We all did it growing up. But we did it with right motives. Roughhousing with friends was an expression of our closeness to them.

Bullying is about wrong motives. We don’t bully our friends. We bully those we don’t like. The motive of bullying behavior is to express our dislike, even hatred, for another person. And that is what makes it so harmful and wrong.

A Caveat: Motive Is Not An Excuse To Bully

Even well-intentioned motives can be wrong. We've all heard the excuse – someone is being verbally/physically aggressive towards us, we protest, and they say, “I was just playing!”.

One person’s “playing” is another person’s abuse.

A firm rule: The recipient ALWAYS gets to determine whether the way they are being treated is aceeptable or not. The giver of the aggressive talk/behavior must ALWAYS respect the receiver’s interpretation. ALWAYS.

The Weak Are Often Singled Out

Bullying reduces us to the level of animal behavior. We watch National Geographic and see the lions single out the weakest of the antelope herd. Being weak, the antelope cannot defend themselves – and the predators attack without mercy.

Humans supposedly have socially evolved to a higher station in life. But everyday we see and hear of human behavior that grossly contradicts this belief.

Young people are often in a weakened state emotionally due to factors no fault of their own. Lack of parental support, poverty, abuse, neglect, and stress are all factors that can overwhelm a young person, making them vulnerable to classmates who feel a need to dominate and denigrate those weaker than them.

We must remember – weakness is a state, not a trait. Its existence is birthed and nutured by outward factors like life circumstances, illness, and current stressors; and inward factors like developmental disabilities and chronic illness.

Bullying Thrives in a Gang Mentality

Sarah’s mother commented about her daughter, “She told me several of her peers were in a group telling her no one loves her”

‘Several of her peers were in a group’.

We all can relate to how much safer it feels to engage in unacceptable behavior if we are with others who are also doing it. This is human nature – there is safety in numbers. The spotlight for the cruel behavior is not shined on any one person but is diffused over the group. The incrimination is less bright this way and thus, easier to rationalize and commit.

If Just One Person In the Bullying Group Would Stand Up...

Mob behavior can be interrupted and derailed by just one member of the group standing against it. We know the problem – at no time in one’s life is it more important to be accepted by one’s peer group than the teen years. Peer pressure rules and can be a terrifying beast for a young person to stand up to.

But if we could just convince enough teens at the individual level that bullying is unacceptable the group norms for what is acceptable might be disrupted, and even changed.

Where We Stand

They say suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Tragically, more than 4000 precious young people take their lives every year because they cannot see the temporary state of their daily hell, and taking their own life means they never will.

It is up to us who remain to do what we can to change the mindset among teens that it is permissible to bully other teens. Doing so may save lives.

What You Can Do!

1) Take every opportunity to speak out against bullying to all who will listen

2) If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle – make sure the young people in your life know how terrible and unacceptable you believe bullying is. Kids need to know there is right and wrong behavior in this world and bullying is always wrong behavior.

3) When you talk to other parents, find ways to bring up the topic of bullying. One study found that just 7% (7 out of every 100 parents!) reported being worried about their kids being bullied. [4] Parents need to be made aware bullying is a serious problem.

4) Bullied children need a trusted adult to talk to. This adult needs to be empathic and non-judgmental. A school counselor can be a good place to start.

5) Take advantages of online resources for help in dealing with bullying.

Some good sources include:

Before You Go

Help others find this message. Please share and respond so others might be helped.

Thank you,


Article References