Monthly Archives: October 2012
In this final part of a series featuring the young soul that took her own life, Amanda Todd, presumably due to bullying, I’d like to turn the focus to root causes of bullying itself. As I roam the web in search of information on this topic, and personally speak to professionals in their respective fields, I’ve discovered that most are using the word bullying as a cause unto itself. Bullying is a symptom, not a cause. We should all be asking ourselves, “What makes a bully, a bully?”
I contend that most behavior people exhibit in life is usually influenced and taught in the home, from an early age. We’re products of our immediate environments, and what we learn in the earliest stages of our lives in turn shapes us. At first, I believed people that bullied must have a low self esteem and lack self worth. On the contrary, I’m seeing that this is a myth, as most bullies tend to have quite the opposite in terms of how they view themselves.
So what compels bullies to harrass, banter and pick on others to an extreme point of abuse? Dorothy Espelage, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, puts it this way:
“For the longest time we thought for sure that these ringleader bullies were socially rejected, that there was no way that you could establish dominance and control by humiliating other kids or tormenting them. But now we’ve shown that there is a peer socialization process – that bullies tend to have more friends.”
While experts agree that social anxiety causes bullying, it’s important to understand that if parents demonstrate aggression the kids will learn it as well. Personal relationships and social skills are not being taught early enough, and as a result, the bully will act out with their learned experience. Feeding the flames with peer pressure furthers the possibilities of bullying.
Yes, peer pressure. The moral compass is somewhat lost when others encourage such behavior. Spreading lies, humiliating, physically pushing or spitting on others is validated in the bully’s peer group. Although the bully may realize the behavior is wrong, the bully loses site of this due to the nature of our social norms.
Lastly, consequences aren’t clearly understood at earlier ages, as many high schoolers don’t realize what they’re doing borders on criminal activity. They must be taught the consequences at an earlier age, and this must come from the home at an early year in the childs life. But in this era, can we really rely on parents to do this? Our inner senses say it should be possible, but in an age of entitlements and self-loathing, it’s highly improbable.
Until parents reach their child earlier in life on these topics, bullying will continue.
Grow, with the know.
Today I’d like to take a closer look at not only bullying, but also trends that have changed dramatically since the 1950’s. As many can tell with simple observation, social changes have evolved over that time in many areas. For the sake of the topic, I isolated teen suicide over the past 60 years and the elevated statistics should alarm all. Between the 1950’s and 1990 for instance, the teen suicide rate went from 1.0 for every 100,000 children in 1950 to 1.45 teen suicides per 100,000 for children in 1990. Do you think a .45 increase is not much?
It’s a 50% increase!
The answer is a resounding yes. But the numbers grew enormously since that time or, at an 800% increase. And since 1990, the statistics were moreso eratic. According to Science Daily in 2007, “The decline took place from 1990 to 2003 (from 9.48 to 6.78 per 100,000 people), and the increase took place from 2003 to 2004, (from 6.78 to 7.32),” the report said.
What happened during these increases and decreases? What contributing factors should be addressed to curb a growing problem? It would seem that we’ve convinced ourselves that bullying is the sole factor. But as I looked into this trend deeper, I discovered many culprits.
I’m not suggesting that youths go back to the days when technology to kids was a calculator. But, I do suggest looking at the social changes since then. Many facets of American lives have evolved into many great things that make life more convenient and have enhanced variables of social networking and connections. The way American children were parented, taught in schools and dealt with bullying has changed immensely. And not all for the good.
Personal responsibility and the way our youth are taught problem-solving is another evolving issue through the years. Accountability is everything, but when not instilled at an early age, the consequences could be destructive. We’re seeing this accountability dwindle before our eyes, year after year.
So how does the bullying against Amanda Todd relate? Think about it with an open mind. In the immediate future, most sympathisers want justice. Amanda’s followers want an investigation into the ordeal and want someone brought before the people to be judged. In our right minds, all of us should feel the same way.
But Amanda is gone now, and the bullying continues.
I’d like to make Part Three of this series about what readers or those concerned about teen suicide think the real issues are. I want to hear from those with experience as it relates to bullying. I want to hear their voices. We know that bullying had much to do with Amanda Todd’s plight to suicide. But as a nation, what are we willing to do to not only do something about it, but also understand the root causes?
I suggest the problem solving commencing instead of the hate and denial. Right now, it’s up to our youth to make us better understand their struggles in today’s technological, social world. Remedies could then be put in place to save our kids from the ultimate act of depression, suicide.
Today, I was alerted to a story out of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia about a teen, Amanda Todd. Apparently, she had commited suicide due to bullying. I hear about teens that take their own lives often due to bullying, but what set this story apart was the video Amanda left behind. In it, Amanda details the reasons behind her depression and ultimate decision to end her own life.
Authorities in Port Coquitlam have not yet released the details of the death, only saying there is no foul play suspected. The coroner is still investigating the cause as of this time.
I viewed the video, and was saddened of course by her inner torment. But as she told the story via a silent rendition of events with paper, more questions began to accumulate than the answers she provided. I took into account her age, and was immediately burdened with the big question, “Where were her parents in all this?”
As the details of Amanda Todd’s death trickle in, the information she provided viewers was invaluable. Were laws broken by others? Was there negligence by school faculty in not doing enough to help Amanda? Click on the VIDEO Amanda Todd created to get up to speed on the story.
As previously mentioned, I want to know where the parents were during much of Amanda’s struggles with bullies (if in fact they were aware of these issues). Having children myself, I must also wonder how alcohol and drug abuse was not detected (by a daughter in her early teens), and what red flags there may have been that were ignored. Were there meetings between the parents and school faculties at the numerous schools? Were the parents alerted of what I would label a stalker, and investigated by adults? In any capacity?
Bullying is a serious matter in this country. As society evolves, this trend is bound to worsen. I’ll attempt to leave politics out of this, but it’s difficult to ignore the new era of parenting that has been shaped by it. As part one in a series about this case, we’ll examine the dynamics of the cause and outcome of a story that has reached the national media.
Grow, with the know.