Studies show 90-percent of fourth through eighth graders report being victims of bullying. Meanwhile, suicide rates among 10 to 14-year-olds have grown more than 50 percent in the last three decades. Why are they being so mean, and what can be done? Ten kids trying to make a difference speak out in their own words.
Who has ever been bullied?
"I was bullied because I was in and out of school a lot, and kids didn't know why, and it was for cancer," said 14-year-old Kajmere Houchins.
"The way I looked, the way I dressed, and the way my hair looked," said 11-year-old Gabrielle Caruse.
"One time on Facebook, one of my old friends put up an ugly list and I was on it," said 12-year-old Aisha White.
"On the inside you're hurt, but on the outside, you have to be like, ‘man I didn't care about it or anything,'" admitted 15-year-old Keenan Thomas Marshall.
"I told my mom I wasn't ever going to go to school again," said 14-year-old Nadja Williams.
When asked if it is harder to be bullied to your face or on the internet the group of adolescents admitted that cyber bullying was worse.
"I believe people bully because they're bullied or they feel unaccepted but like you don't know what type of damage you could be causing to that person," said 12-year-old Teague Rogers.
"I think it ends by everyone just getting together and just putting a stop to everything," said 14-year-old Kammal Washington.
If you are being bullied, you can find help online at www.stopbullying.gov. The site offers resources and information for kids and parents on all types of bullying.
There's no real way to know why people bully except to ask them. But psychologists have an idea about the social and psychological factors at work when bullies bully. Kids feel power when they bully, and this power gives them a higher social status, according to Catherine Bradshaw, a developmental psychologist who studies bullying at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. These kids also find bullying as a way to maintain their in-group and define who is outside of it. And often, bullies get away with their actions, so they keep doing it because they're never stopped. About 85 percent of acts of bullying go unpunished by teachers or parents. (Sources: http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying-statistics.html and http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/bullying-phoebe-prince-teens.htm)
Combatting Bullying: The best way to stop bullying is creating an environment which not only condemns bullying, but one that is accepting of differences. Offering support to anyone being bullied, can help them feel part of a community. Creating things like gay-straight alliances at schools are a great way to show support for students who feel isolated and distant from their peers and community. Often those who bully may feel isolated as well, whether it be at home or at school, so offering support if needed can help them address their actions. (Source: http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/groups/lgbt/#creating)