Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Thinking About Bullying In A New Way

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At last, kids are not being told to ignore bullies anymore, and parents are not saying "kids will be kids!" It is about time that our culture decided that bullying is not a normal part of childhood and that handling it makes us more successful people!

I have been relived to see that most of the information about bullying coming out is now very clear - bullying of any type is unacceptable! Every child who is bullied should be able to count of his or her parents calling the school to report it, schools are expected to be doing concrete things with staff and youth to prevent bullying, and bullies and their victims should be in counseling.

Bullying is also being defined more broadly now as not only repeated taunts or attacks, but as spreading rumors and social exclusion. Whether it happens on the playground or on Facebook, bullying is destructive to any community or school. Bullies and their victims are more likely than their peers to experience depression, suicidal thoughts, less likely to finish high school or hold down a job. Bullying is traumatic for everyone involved and the grief and the experience and difficulty of moving forward with life is the same as people who have lived through other traumas.

Everyone can stop bullying, especially the "bystanders," according to some wonderful research on bullying prevention done by Dan Olweus. Preventing bullying requires that everyone realize the person who bullies has a problem managing their anger and the victim is someone who can be protected! Bullying is preventable and has long-term consequences for everyone involved, but together, we can make it stop!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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