How Many More Deaths Must Happen to End Youth Bullying?

A day after a Cleveland school shooting, three students are dead. BET.com breaks down FAQ’s about the crime that has led to the tragic death of too many youngsters.

Posted: 02/28/2012 12:20 PM EST

One day after a suburban Cleveland high school student opened fire on other students, three children have died from their injuries and two more are wounded.


"The cause and manner of death of this case are under ongoing investigation and will be released upon completion," said Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office administrator, Hugh Shannon.

Five students at Chardon High School were injured Monday morning when a student-suspect identified as T.J. Lane began shooting. Law enforcement sources have reported that Lane said he was a victim of bullying.

Days after Lane told his friends he was going to bring a gun to school, three students are dead. This is not the first instance of deaths resulting from bullying, however. Just last month, 15-year-old Amanda Cummings — who was bullied in person and on Facebook — jumped in front of a southbound Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus, carrying a suicide note in her pocket. Over a year prior, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince — who was verbally harassed and physically abused by an alleged group of 9 girls — hung herself in a stairway.

There are many other cases of bullying deaths, but how do we stop them? BET.com breaks down some FAQs about bullying based on tips provided by the Department of Health and Human Services:

Who Is At Risk for Being Bullied?

Generally, children, teens and young adults who are bullied:

—Do not get along well with others

—Are less popular than others

—Have few-to-no friends

—Do not conform to gender norms

—Have low self-esteem

—Are depressed or anxious

Who Is At Risk for Bullying Others?

Some people who are at risk for bullying others are well-connected to their peers, have social power, and at least one of the following traits:

—Are overly concerned about their popularity

—Like to dominate or be in charge of others

In What Forms Can Bullying Take Place?

Bullying can take many forms, including:

Verbal: name-calling, teasing

Social: spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships 

Physical: hitting, punching, shoving

Cyberbullying: using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others

 

An act of bullying may fit into more than one of these groups.

What Are Some Ways to Recognize the Physical Signs of Bullying?

You can recognize if bullying is taking place if the victim:

—Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings

—Reports losing items, such as books, electronics, clothing or jewelry

—Has unexplained injuries

—Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or feeling sick

—Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams

—Has changes in eating habits

—Hurts themselves

—Are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch

—Runs away from home

—Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends

—Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers

What Are Some Ways to Recognize the Emotional Signs of Bullying?

You can recognize if bullying is taking place if the victim:

—Loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school

—Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home

—Talks about suicide

—Feels helpless

—Often feels like they are not good enough

—Blames themselves for their problems

—Suddenly has fewer friends

—Avoids certain places

—Acts differently than usual

As a Parent, or Even a Friend, How Do I Recognize if My Loved One Is Bullying Others?

 

You can tell if someone is potentially bullying others if they:

—Become violent with others

—Get into physical or verbal fights with others

—Get sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot

—Have extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained

—Are quick to blame others

—Will not accept responsibility for their actions

—Has friends who bully others

—Needs to win or be best at everything

When Is Bullying a Civil Rights Issue?

Schools that receive federal funding (including colleges and universities) are required by federal law to address discrimination on a number of different personal characteristics. Bullying may be a civil rights violation when someone’s race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability is discriminated against.

What to Do When You Are Being Bullied?


If you are being bullied, don’t take the abuse:

Tell them to stop.  

Walk away. Do not let them get to you. If you walk away or ignore them, they will not feel the satisfaction of getting a rise out of you. 

Protect yourself. Sometimes you cannot walk away. If you are being physically hurt, protect yourself so that you can get away. 

Tell an adult you trust. Talking to someone could help you figure out the best ways to deal with the problem. In some cases, adults need to get involved for the bullying to stop. 

Find a safe place. Go somewhere that you feel safe and secure, like the school library, a favorite teacher’s classroom, or the office.

Stick together. Stay with a group or individuals that you trust. 

Find opportunities to make new friends. Explore your interests and join school or community activities such as sports, drama, or art. Volunteer or participate in community service.


What to Do When Bullying Continues or Gets Worse?

 
If someone is at immediate risk of harm because of bullying, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you know someone who is feeling suicidal because of bullying, contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


I’m a Parent, What Do I Do When Bullying Gets Worse and My Child Needs Additional Help?

If your child’s teacher is not keeping your child safe, contact the local school administration (principal or superintendent). If your school is not keeping your child safe, contact the state school department. If your child is bullied because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability and local help is not working, contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office on Civil Rights.


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(Photo: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

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