Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about bullying. It’s always been around and it’s always going to be around.
With all the “awareness” about bullying, it must be better. My 12-year-old granddaughter brings home anti-bullying information almost every day.
My daughter’s family went to another memorial service for a young girl, who’s a victim of “Bullycide.” I asked what that meant. After looking at me like I was an alien, they said it’s someone who doesn’t think there’s a way out of being bullied and commits suicide.
I wasn’t being sensitive, I guess, when I asked why the parents didn’t shut down her phone. I also said that bullying isn’t abuse and that her parents should have done something when the girl starting sneaking her parents’ alcohol.
We got into an argument. I said the problem with our society, now, is that everyone’s a victim. They haven’t called me in weeks.
Should I apologize, or stick to my guns?
We understand you may feel our society has too many victims; however, most studies conclude that bullying has actually increased and accounts for the rising number of youth suicides.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 U.S. deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten- to 14-year-old girls are reported to be at higher risk for suicide.
However, in recent school studies, where there’s anti-bullying programs, bullying is reduced by half.
Bullied victims are still underreporting their bullying events, though. It’s mostly because of fear of embarrassment — victimhood can be associated with being weak. In reality, it’s the most courageous choice to help end bullying and prevent bully-suicide deaths.
We educate students that being a victim is not a choice, but they may choose not to stay a victim. When victims choose not to stay a victim and report bullying, it’s an empowering choice. Taking that first step is extremely difficult, but may balance the control-seeking bully.
About 160,000 American students stay home each day from school, due to bullying at school. Studies also show the highest suicide risk (over 70 percent) is from cyberbullying. Parents need to monitor social media every day.
Behavioral risk factors may lead to suicide. These include substance abuse, violence (including gun violence, which is a factor in two-thirds of the 37 school shootings reviewed by the U.S. Secret Service), and sexual activity.
Many families assume talking about bullying and suicide will only heighten the risk of suicide, but it actually helps to reduce fears and victimhood.
You may be able to help your family with this new information.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president of Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation and host of a podcast at BullyingLifeAndStuff.com. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Write them at Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org.