More than 160,000 kids miss school every day out of fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Kids who are bullied are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders that don’t just go away at the end of the school year. Doctors say the effects of bullying can last a lifetime. In some cases, bullying can even lead to suicide.
“When kids are bullied, they really remember it,” said Dr. Barry Garfinkel, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Center for Developmental Psychopharmacology in Minneapolis. “It results in this excessive caution and fear they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Rather than being excited about life, they are burdened with this anxiety that there are people who will hurt them emotionally and even physically.”
As part of National Bullying Prevention Month in October, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is encouraging people and businesses to take action if they witness an act of bullying.
“Silence is not an acceptable response to bullying,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which sponsors National Bullying Prevention Month. “Adults, students and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying. People who are bullied need to know they are not alone.”
Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground. The prevalence of online communication has dramatically changed the landscape of bullying, as it is now visible to hundreds of friends and followers on social media websites. More than one in three young people have been victims of cyberbullying.
“Cyberbullying can be exceptionally traumatic because it can be done anonymously and way too many people can witness it,” said Dr. Read Sulik, senior vice president of behavioral health services at Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. “Once online, it can have a lasting and devastating impact.”
Visit PACER.org/bullying to learn ways to join the social movement and find resources to help change the culture of bullying.