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Recognizing the warning signs for teen bullying, suicide

Teenage depression, victimization, stress, or anxiety can lead to school bullying, suicidal thoughts

School officials need to do more to make parents aware of the stress that today’s teens and tweens face.

Mainstream media outlets have coined a new term to describe the rash of student suicides committed in the wake of persistent school bullying and harassment: “bullycides.”

The issue has spawned significant new research to determine whether the phenomenon is really new, or simply being reported more often. Either way, school officials need to do more to make parents aware of the stress that today’s teens and tweens face.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 12 percent of all deaths among youth and young adults in the U.S. result from suicides.

Nearly 20 percent of high school students surveyed by the CDC report being bullied on school property during the previous 12 months; 5 percent report not going to school on a least one day during the past 30 days as a result of safety concerns.

Perhaps even more telling, 26.1 percent of the CDC survey respondents felt so sad or hopeless for a two-week period or more that they stopped doing their usual activities—a clear sign of teenage depression.

Nationwide, 13.8 percent of students reported they had seriously considered committing suicide. The numbers are particularly bleak for female students, 17.4 percent of whom reported suicidal tendencies.

Another recent CDC study might point to some possible causes. According to the CDC, adverse childhood experiences (called ACEs) are common across racial/ethnic groups and states.

For example, 22 percent of adult women and 16.7 percent of adult men in the study reported having grown up with a mentally ill household member. When substance abuse is included, the number skyrockets to 30.6 percent for women and 27.5 percent for men.

Women are also more than twice as likely as men to become victims of sexual abuse while growing up, 17.2 percent for women as compared to 6.7 percent for men.

Because the CDC identifies a family history of suicide, mental illness, and alcohol or drug abuse as major risk factors for suicide, school personnel need to stay alert for signs of trouble and recognize that bad behavior might just represent a cry for help.

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Comments:

  1. litlady02

    February 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    This article is a classic case of deflecting responsibility from schools onto “dysfunctional families” and blaming the victims of bullying. “If only these bullied kids were more resilient.” “We have to look beyond one factor (i.e. bullying)” for why kids are killing themselves. Well, I was a bullied child and yes, my family struggled with mental illness and substance abuse. But I can tell you this. When I thought about ending my life, it wasn’t a sick parent who preyed on my mind. It was the classroom of peers who ostracized and humiliated me. The responsibility for child suicides resulting from bullying rests squarely on the shoulders of those who torment their fellow students and on the school officials who ignore or minimize bullying behavior.

  2. litlady02

    February 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    This article is a classic case of deflecting responsibility from schools onto “dysfunctional families” and blaming the victims of bullying. “If only these bullied kids were more resilient.” “We have to look beyond one factor (i.e. bullying)” for why kids are killing themselves. Well, I was a bullied child and yes, my family struggled with mental illness and substance abuse. But I can tell you this. When I thought about ending my life, it wasn’t a sick parent who preyed on my mind. It was the classroom of peers who ostracized and humiliated me. The responsibility for child suicides resulting from bullying rests squarely on the shoulders of those who torment their fellow students and on the school officials who ignore or minimize bullying behavior.

  3. rstellmaker

    February 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you for the great article on the signs of bullying. Bullying has continued to be a growing problem and the national attention that this problem is getting currently is shedding some light on the fact that more needs to be done both at home and in schools to address this problem. Many schools and states are implementing anti-bullying policies to help. The problem I have seen is that schools don’t have the tools or technology to track and manage these policies. It is important both to schools and parents that bullying and anti-bullying policies can be documented, archived and a proactive action plan can be put in place. My company supplies schools with such a tool. We are excited to be helping schools, parents and children deal with the problems of bullying. Please email us at equity2info@rdeducationsolutions.com with any questions or visit us at http://www.rdeducationsolutions.com.

  4. rstellmaker

    February 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you for the great article on the signs of bullying. Bullying has continued to be a growing problem and the national attention that this problem is getting currently is shedding some light on the fact that more needs to be done both at home and in schools to address this problem. Many schools and states are implementing anti-bullying policies to help. The problem I have seen is that schools don’t have the tools or technology to track and manage these policies. It is important both to schools and parents that bullying and anti-bullying policies can be documented, archived and a proactive action plan can be put in place. My company supplies schools with such a tool. We are excited to be helping schools, parents and children deal with the problems of bullying. Please email us at equity2info@rdeducationsolutions.com with any questions or visit us at http://www.rdeducationsolutions.com.

  5. corinnegregory

    February 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    This is a great article, but it continues to represent the overwhelming popular response to the increasing epidemic of bullying: “how do we recognize it now that it’s here?”

    We do virtually nothing to prevent the problem. The author hits on part of it — the “learned skills” of resiliency and tools for overcoming adversity. But there needs to be more “learned skills” acquisition happening in the classroom and that’s the vital skills of positive social skills and character.

    Put simply, too many of our kids are coming into school ill-equipped with the social skills, emotional develoment and character development that helps them understand it is just unacceptable to treat people in a cruel and unkind way. That not only addresses the bullies behavior, but also empowers the bystanders, which, in turn supports the victims.

    We can no longer depend that kids are going to come into school with any sort of “lowest common denominator” of social skills so it becomes vital that the schools bring such education in the schools. Couple that with the recent research that directly links social skills education in the classroom with significantly higher test scores (you can read the PDF of the EdWeek article here: http://bit.ly/g89a6M), and you see that there are benefits for everyone — bullied or not — when you integrate social skills education that help develop positive, productive learning environments.

    Then, we may not have to “recognize the warning signs” because the problem will be reduced to infrequent exceptions to a positive norm. And all kids will have a chance at a safe and supportive educational experience.

    Corinne Gregory
    http://www.corinnegregory.com
    http://www.socialsmarts.com

  6. corinnegregory

    February 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    This is a great article, but it continues to represent the overwhelming popular response to the increasing epidemic of bullying: “how do we recognize it now that it’s here?”

    We do virtually nothing to prevent the problem. The author hits on part of it — the “learned skills” of resiliency and tools for overcoming adversity. But there needs to be more “learned skills” acquisition happening in the classroom and that’s the vital skills of positive social skills and character.

    Put simply, too many of our kids are coming into school ill-equipped with the social skills, emotional develoment and character development that helps them understand it is just unacceptable to treat people in a cruel and unkind way. That not only addresses the bullies behavior, but also empowers the bystanders, which, in turn supports the victims.

    We can no longer depend that kids are going to come into school with any sort of “lowest common denominator” of social skills so it becomes vital that the schools bring such education in the schools. Couple that with the recent research that directly links social skills education in the classroom with significantly higher test scores (you can read the PDF of the EdWeek article here: http://bit.ly/g89a6M), and you see that there are benefits for everyone — bullied or not — when you integrate social skills education that help develop positive, productive learning environments.

    Then, we may not have to “recognize the warning signs” because the problem will be reduced to infrequent exceptions to a positive norm. And all kids will have a chance at a safe and supportive educational experience.

    Corinne Gregory
    http://www.corinnegregory.com
    http://www.socialsmarts.com


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