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Bullying is a serious problem in homes, schools and communities. Often dismissed as an adolescent “rite of passage,” research clearly indicates bullying is learned behavior and detrimental to the academic, physical, social and emotional development of all involved bullies, targets and the bystanders who witness it. Bullying is not only a problem of youth but is one that spans all ages. Despite volumes of research, countless “anti-bullying” programs and increased by the media, bullying continues to pervade our culture and our schools. It is a complex social issue requiring determination, leadership and courage to address. Although it is a difficult challenge, it cannot be ignored. A wave of recent bullying incidents with tragic outcomes has shed a renewed light on this issue. The advent of technology allowing for impulsive, anonymous and rapid communication, has expanded the opportunities for bullying to a degree that necessitates more innovative and immediate responses than ever before.
Most people know that bullying is wrong. Calling someone names has absolutely no beneficial purpose. Moreover, hitting someone makes a bully feel good in the moment while doing permanent damage to the person being victimized. With the Internet, people now have even more opportunities to bully through cyberbullying. This includes sending crude pictures, posting fake web pages, or tweeting slanderous messages. Cyberbullying has subsequently led to a rise in a completely new kind of bullying.
One of the effects of bullying is that it can change the victim’s personality. It can cause people who are normally confident and happy to become self-conscious, shy, and unsure. Additionally, victims of bullying may also become sad or depressed. Their confidence might completely disappear, keeping them from trying new things or trusting people. Once a person has been bullied, they may hesitate to participate in situations where he or she might be ridiculed, such as in public speaking or in sports. A bullying victim might even begin to possess previously absent anxious behavior.
Despite all the negative effects of bullying, there are even far more serious consequences. People who have been bullied sometimes become so upset, scared, or depressed that they see no worth in themselves and no way out of their torment. There have been countless reports over the past few years of students committing suicide because they were bullied. Meanwhile, there are times when victims see no recourse but to seek revenge by serious acts of violence against the bully and instigators. As a result of bullying, people can lose their ability to love and trust, denying them the chance to experience a quality relationship later in their life. They might find themselves as a submissive partner or they may want to be completely alone. Compounding all of these problems, victims often develop eating disorders, begin to self-injure, or require extensive counseling. Social bullying can also leave people without a supportive group of friends that they can lean on and spend time with.