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Back to School: The Problem That Never Goes Away

Bullies: it turns out EVERYONE is a victim, including the bullies THEMSELVES - Now that school is starting, the perpetual problem of bullies is on people's minds again. Whether you or your child is beginning his or her first day of kindergarten, or starting that last year of high school, bullying is a reality every student will face.

Thank goodness there is no definitive evidence that bullying makes kids more likely to kill themselves. But life takes revenge on bullies?even if the students who are bullies can't always do it themselves. Compared to their victims, bullies experience a significantly higher risk of a wide range of health, safety and educational problems.

Researcher Meline Kevorkian says, "In a recent study, 77% of students said they have been bullied and 14% of those who have been bullied said they have experienced severe reactions to the abuse. Bullying is a reality that must be recognized and addressed. It is not simply a part of growing up. 100% of children are touched by bullying as a victim, perpetrator or bystander."

Could bullies be victims too? Researcher Jorge Srabstein says, "We see that the [obvious] victims are not the only victims. The bullies are also victims of their own emotional problems." He and his team analyzed data from a 1996 survey of almost 10,000 students in grades 6 through 10. Students noted their involvement in bullying in the last year, but also identified whether they had participated in a variety of risky behaviors.

More than one-third of students reported some involvement in bullying within the preceding 12 months, either as bullies, victims or both. Srabstein says, "Both the bullies and the victims have a very significant, high probability of suffering from injuries?self-inflicted, accidental and injuries that are perpetrated by others?as compared to those who are not involved in bullying incidents. Because of this, they are at a considerable danger of dying from suicide, homicide and accidents."

Victims were more likely to inflict self-injury or experience accidental injuries, abuse over-the-counter medications, hurt animals and people on purpose, use weapons and be absent from school, compared to uninvolved students. However, the BULLIES also experienced the same problems!

Researcher Young-Shin Kim says, "When we see kids who are associated with bullying, we should ask them if they?re thinking about hurting themselves. We should evaluate and prevent these things from happening."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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