Sunday, June 7, 2015

Is bullying in schools down?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter came home really upset and hysterical about her friend at school. Her friend, I will call her Tammy, had brought prescription drugs and razor blades to school and she has been cutting herself a few times.

They told her teacher and her teacher said she told the principal. She may have told the principal but nothing happened. My daughter and I then went to the school and asked about how to report this and that my daughter had been to the teacher regarding it a month ago and nothing was done.

The principal assured us that something had been done and the girl’s parents had been contacted. We contacted everyone at that school to help this girl who is emotional all day-everyday at school. Then my daughter tries to help.

We called to get more advice from your column and you said to keep reporting it until an adult does something about it. But we have lost faith in that because the girl is still hurting herself by cutting herself and she must have a dozen or so cuts.

We are now worried about the stress this is causing our own daughter who is co-dependent with Tammy.

We are at our wits end! I don’t want my daughter to keep getting caught up in the drama but I also don’t want this girl to keep mutilating her body and what if she commits suicide?

Also, we heard a report that bullying is going down in numbers but that isn’t so, is it?

Bullying Numbers Down???

Dear Bullying Numbers Down,

Reports that say bullying is going down in schools don’t reflect reality. Although some reports may be technically accurate, it’s only because bullying happens most often in schools. 1 in 3 of our kids are still bullied in schools in the US; according to School Crime and Safety Reports. The reports only reflect the amount of schools actually reporting bullying incidents, and many have stopped routinely reporting them.

It is now more common among 11-to-15-year-olds in the year 2014, whereas it was a broader spectrum in 2011-2013 with 10-to-25-year-olds.
It is not uncommon for us to speak at elementary schools where teachers explain that girls are self-harming with tactics like biting, cutting, scratching, hitting, burning, and so on, with cutting the preferred means.

Girls (and many boys) harm themselves as a temporary relief solution, unlike suicidal attempts as permanent solutions. The Journal of Pediatrics says being overweight is the reason most girls are bullied, along with envy and revenge.

70% of our kids have seen bullying in schools while 160,000 kids say they want to stay home from school every day because they have been or fear being bullied.

Anecdotal reports indicate that incidents of bullying, especially cyberbullying, are actually on the rise.

Your daughter is behaving as a co-dependent to the self-harming friend which will be a huge detriment to her healthy emotional behavior by exhausting herself from trying to rescue her friend. Even though rescuing is filled with good intentions, it’s unhealthy for both of them.

So our summary is:
-Bullying is not going down in numbers, it’s instead going up but not being reported as much—so keep telling until an adult until something is done.

-We need teachers, parents, community leaders, and school leaders to be courageous to do the right thing for our children instead of worrying about funding and reputations.

Keep your daughter involved with activities that put her in diverse social activities with many kids. Tell her that her heart is good but the cutter needs professional help.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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