One of the most serious problems facing schools today is that of bullying. A recent report by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) suggested that nearly a fifth of the respondents had been bullied in school in the preceding year. This might mean that the problem is more widespread than people believe. There are cases where bullying became so serious that the victims attempted or succeeded in committing suicide. Recognizing the symptoms of bullying and suicide is, therefore, necessary if this problem is to be dealt with decisively.
Some of the symptoms of bullying include:
Responsible members of the society such as teachers, parents and concerned neighbors should be on the lookout for these and other unusual symptoms. It is far too easy to punish students who exhibit a combination of these symptoms but that would just be like punishing the victim. According to the CDC report mentioned above, approximately 13.8 percent of the students involved in the study had contemplated suicide after being bullied regularly. Thus, bullying prevention is one of the first steps in preventing suicide.
Several factors can compound suicide tendencies in children. Those who had adverse childhood experiences, such as growing up with a mentally ill family member, are more predisposed to suicide. Substance abuse is also a major contributing factor. It should also be noted that those who are bullied are likely to bully others weaker than them as a way of releasing their anger.
It should also be noted that bullying often leads to truancy, as victims fear going to school for fear of being bullied again. Though bullying manifests itself in different forms, the consequences are more or less the same. Thus, no form of bullying should be viewed as ‘safe.’
Suicide prevention should start with and involve prevention of bullying as there is a strong link between the two. There are different bullying programs that help guardians and teachers in preventing bullying. Only those who have the right resources can recognize and deal with this problem effectively.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.