Violent acts of bullying leading to hospitalization, or even worse – death, are occurring at a higher rate than ever before. Researchers have found that fear is the underlying emotion that bullies use to manipulate others. Even more devastating are the results when a bully aligns himself with others to isolate a victim, thus further eroding the victim’s feelings of well-being and hope for the future.
This appears to be the case in North Carolina where a trial for four teens accused in murdering Matthew Silliman is unfolding. It is a story with bizarre behavior that centers on fear the teens have of Ryan Hare, the teen prosecution calls the mastermind of the murder plot. During the court proceedings on September 17, Apex Detective Benjamin Byrne reported that when he interviewed one of the accused, Allegra Dalquist, she was reported as saying, ‘We wanted to make sure that he died because we hated him. We all did.” According to testimony from Drew Shaw, another accused, Hare verbally berated Silliman prior to killing him.
Earlier this month in Florida, a 13-year-old girl was hospitalized as a result of bullies and is afraid to ride the bus, the place where the bullying behaviour occurred. According to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office report, her tormentors – all boys – had placed an open condom on her head, smacked her on the back of the head, twisted her ear and shouted rude comments at her.
Reports are revealing that bullying is all too common in our schools. In a study of 207 junior high and high school students from small midwestern towns, 88 percent reported having observed bullying, and 77 percent indicated that they had been victims of bullying during their school careers.
It is time for the US to catch up with other nations in fighting bullying by designating a week. Kids United Foundation is lobbying to have a week set aside. In the UK, Anti-Bullying Week takes place November 15-19 with the hope of raising awareness of bullying of children and young people, in schools and elsewhere, and to highlight ways of preventing and responding to it. Anti-Bullying Week is organized by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), which is made up of about sixty member organizations.
It’s possible your child may be bullied and you don’t know it. Some of the signs to look for include:
- Acts withdrawn
- Has unexplained injuries
- Clothing is torn
- Fears going to school
- Has trouble sleeping
- Mood changes
- Stops talking about school
- Finds excuses to miss school
- Has new friends
- Displays aggressive behavior at home (Sometimes if your child is being bullied, he or she will take it out on a sibling.)
Ways to help your child respond to a bully are varied. The best idea is to listen to your child and follow-up with school administrators.
One father was concerned when his 8-year-old son was bullied, signed him up for classes at the Gracie Academy. “When my son started at the academy, because of a bully situation, he was often nervous to stand up for himself. After a few months of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, his demeanour changed. He did not become a “tough guy” but rather he was confident and at peace. It is amazing that even his school work improved and he found the confidence to try new things and his focus is improving in many ways.”
Finding a program that boosts confidence, increases awareness, and helps your child be ready to let others know that he/she will not tolerate harassment is a good idea.
Got ideas to share with others? Add them in the comment section below.