A Serious Epidemic
School bullies can kill other children. Bullies
do kill other children.
2008 -- An American youth attempts suicide
every 42 seconds or more often. Many times it
is the result of bullying.
This HAS happened in my home
state and my home city as well as many others
in the US. Further, some children that are bullied
and cannot tolerate it, stand up to it or receive
help from adults, commit suicide. The incidence
of this phenomenon is receiving increased 21st
century press over young suicides stemming from
The rise in teen suicides
in America is evident -- In 1950 the rate of
suicide among 15-19 year-olds was 2.7 per 100,000.
In 1990, it had increased to 11:1 per 100,000,
over 300% more. 2008 -- An American youth attempts
suicide at least every 42 seconds.
The activites of abuse
are more rampant in America than in previous
years. However, some communities are
making significant strides in solving the problem.
Many Canadian communities and their school systems
have outlawed bully activities of all kinds
and take legal action against school bullies.
Children must be supported
by adults in a community and an educational
system in which they can depend on the fact
that bullyism will not be tolerated and which
teach children how to stand up to it.
Some adults in authority
do not want to confront the problem of bullyism
at school, this lack of action related to:
• They don't know there
is a problem - the target child has been told
not to tell, or is afraid to tell all on their
own, without being threatened.
• Disbelief that the problem is real or
not taking the problem seriously
• Fear of confrontation with the bully,
school administration, bully's family, the press,
• Not wanting to suffer repercussions
from the bully or his/her family and the community
• Not wanting to "do the paperwork"
• Lack of energy to put forth the effort
to fight bullyism
• Hoping someone else will solve the problem
[Kitty Genovese Syndrome*]
• Belief that the bullied child got what
• Belief that kids should fight it out
- sometimes it works, not usually if the bully
is the victim of abuse at home and/or has an
SMD (Severe Mental Disorder)
• Some parents punish their children for
getting bullied, because their child is "causing
*In 1960s New York City - March 4, 1964 - Catherine
Genovese was knifed to death in an area akin
to a high rise apartment building courtyard
while tenants and passersby looked on and did
nothing to help her, not even calling for the
police; -- Simon Dinitz, a second generation
founder of criminology. This phenomenon is also
called the bystander syndrome. Spectators used
the excuse that it was a lovers' quarrel or
drunken fight by people leaving a bar.
My own thoughts are these:
Kitty worked in a NYC bar and got home at 3:15
AM -- both of these facts (higher risk nighttime
occupation; late hours) hurt her chances of
getting into her apartment unharmed in a high
crime city, but we need to work to eliminate
these crimes as well. The killer was, in fact,
caught, jailed, and denied parole again on March
8, 2008, 44 years later almost to the day. He
Bullycide in America
BULLYCIDE: Homicide & Suicide Examples
The US National Crime Prevention
Council (NCPC) reports that youth and children
fear bullyism violence far more than terrorist
attacks to the US. NCPC adds to the advise later
into his column to:
your child and BE ALERT to
symptoms that he/she is a bullying target -
emotional or behavioral withdrawal, dropping
grades on school work, changes in appetite,
torn clothing, or asking for extra money and/or
school supplies. TEACH your
child non-violent problem solving skills and
the ability to make supportive friends.
Examples from Canada:
Myles Neuts. Age 10. Hung by the throat from
a coat hook in school at Chatham, Ontario. Died
four days later. Hung by two older boys waiting
in a bathroom for him. While he slowly strangled
on the hook, the boys brought their pals to
see "the dummy", but one finally told
a teacher. Not in time to save his life.
Gary Hansen.Age 16. Suicide in Manitoba Province.
Pulled out of school because of bullies in elementary
years, was homeschooled, and returned to public
high school, earning good grades. Gary restored
a 20-year-old snowmobile to excellent condition
and six boys taunted him in envy for nearly
three months. The six boys attacked him and
called him gay in public. He went home and hung
himself without telling anyone about the attack.
Jennifer Laviolette, librarian of the local
library, wrote a letter to the editor about
bullying in the city, receiving many positive
reactions. Petitions circulated to begin anti-bullying
programs in Manitoba, which have begin to develop.
- Recorded by a young target, December 2007
Why Do Bullies Bully?
Some see it in cartoons as a young child and
think its funny. Recall that America is the
country that saw the real punches and kicks
on the vaudeville stage by Ted Healey and His
Stooges and later The Three Stooges as funny.
All this occurred in reactions live and on film
between the late 1890s - 1970s (80 years), when
people began to look at abuse more seriously
and seek a stop to it. While the movies put
a stop to actual physical contact early on,
young children did not realize it. Cartoon violence
affects some young children as well, not all.
Recall also that this is the
country that derived humor in some parts at
some times from physically and verbally abusing
slaves, Chinese, and some Native Americans,
as well as other immigrants that were not WASPS
[White Anglo Saxon Protestants]. Animal torture
has also been seen as highly humorous in some
sectors - setting fired to turpentine rubbed
on farm cats, for example.
This is a country that contains
some sectors in which some people still torment
gays/lesbians/transgendered, etc; women, men
that don't like sports. High academic achievers,
and a newer group -- high school boys that are
under 6 feet tall. That one is occurring in
our western suburbs here.
In summary, one reason that
some bullies bully is that others find it funny
or harmless, and the targets "probably
deserve it anyway." In truth, it is all
about "power over" others.
I solved this in my high school
myself when I was a junior, because no one would
ever help me, starting back in the 1st grade.
Juniors and seniors would make fun of freshmen
and sophomores, calling them names, hitting
and kicking them, tripping them, and telling
them they could not use the water fountains
or bathrooms until upper classmen were finished
with them. One morning, three senior boys started
in on 4 younger boys and girls in this manner
when I was 5th in a line of 12 seniors and juniors
at a water fountain. I shouted (in front of
teachers, who were put on the spot), "This
is not going to happen any more; get in line
ahead of me." It was so sudden and so surprising
that a girl would do this at the time, that
the tradition of water fountain and bathroom
hazing ended. It just lost its wind, since the
teachers thought they needed to enforce it since
they'd heard it and could not escape it via
not knowing. Later that day in a study hall
in the auditorium, two girls my age from Russian
Club ran up to my seat and told me to get up
and bow down on the floor because I was newer
to the club. I ignored them and other students
laughed. Study hall ended, I went to the Russian
Club teacher and school principal and quit the
club; the teacher was called before the principal.
The bowing down initiation ended. Throughout
10 previous years of school, I had become fed
up with minor hazing to verbal and physical
bullying, saying that enough is enough after
10 years. I took things into my own hands, because
adults would not help previously.
How many kids can do this?
We need to teach them to resist a bully very
early in life.
Mental health issues cause a certain percentage
of children to become bullies. Abuse and Bullying
are both "power over" other people.
They are a means to control others. Children
must learn not to be controlled by bullies and
adults much teach them.
Child abuse at home is one
cause of these mental health issues. Abuse is
often intergenerational. However, other mental
health concerns can cause bullyism to manifest
and a doctor should be consulted in order to
rule out physical or nutritional causes first.
A child can also learn to be a bully from watching
others bully people and animals - and verbal
abuse is the first step toward physical abuse
in the majority of reported cases. (Nip it in
the bud there!) Some children stand up for themselves,
so the bully turns it around and accuses the
target of being the bully. Adults need to see
through this ruse.
How to Handle a School
Canadian school principles advise us to use
and teach the following methods that they have
found effective during the last 10+ years. American
researches, teachers, and principals have gathered
corroborating evidence for the following as
• Stand up straight and look the bully
in the eye seriously and strongly.
• Say politely and firmly, "Stop
_____ (state the behavior), I don't like it.
Leave me alone."
• Try to disengage by not crying or looking
fearful, if you can. In any way, disconnect
by walking away.
• Report the bullying immediately to a
trusted adult and adopt an attitude they you
expect action to be taken against the bully.
Families of Targets
• Call the school anonymously, and ask
if there is a bullying policy and ask what it
• If you are then sure that your child
will not be retaliated against, tell the school
officials about the specific bullying and state
the exact date, time, and place and the name
of the bully and your child.
• Follow-up continually with the school
and ask about specific action taken and how
your child will be kept safe.
• If there is no anti-bully policy in
the school system, teach your child the steps
in "Children" above.
• Self defense classes may or may not
help. Many school systems in the USA forbid
children to physically defend themselves at
school. Parents in families of most of my martial
arts students tell the kids to defend themselves
if they need to and smile and be cooperative
through their detention.
• Be careful, because a number of martial
arts school owners are not qualified in certain
areas of the country. Martial arts are not regulated
by law and anyone can open a school, even if
they have never studied martial arts, or are
low-ranking black belts without enough experience
(there are 10 to at least 18 levels of black
belt, perhaps more, depending on the style of
• Ask your local police department how
you should handle the situation.