It started out with people calling me names, and then it got worse. They threw things at me, they vandalized my house and they sang nasty songs about me in hallways and classrooms. It got so bad
that I felt like I was in danger physically.
-Erika Harold, Miss America 2003
(Pollock, 2006, p.1)
Bullying is recognized as a widespread problem in the United States, and no one is exempt. It is reported that one in seven students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying. Even the former Miss America, Erika Harold, did not escape the harsh realities of bullying (Pollock, 2006). What is bullying?
Bullying is defined as type of aggression intended to harm and/or intimidate others through verbal and physical actions. There are two types of bullying: direct and indirect. Direct Bullying Direct bullying is when the bully confronts the victim face to face. Examples of direct bullying would include relatively open attacks on the victim (Benn, 2006). A child, who is punched, kicked, slapped, called nasty names in the lunch line, refused a seat on the bus, or threatened in the bathroom is the victim of direct bullying. Indirect bullying, the bully systematically undermines the victim's reputation by spreading rumors and malicious gossip with the intent of ruining the victim's social standing. This type of bullying can be difficult to stop because the identity of the person responsible for the bullying may never be discovered. Girls are more apt to utilize these more subtle indirect strategies, whereas boys are more likely to engage in direct bullying. ( Pollock, 2006).
What are the effects of bullying?
Bullying can have serious implications for the victims and the bullies themselves. Bullying has been linked to anger, aggression, violence, hyperactivity, absenteeism, poor academic performance, low-self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and suicidal attempts. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shootings and 30% of teen suicides (Benn, 2006). Like these statistics, bullying is not limited by gender and socio-economic status. (Pollock, 2006). However, at the core of this epidemic there lies a student group that seems to be greatly affected: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. In a survey conducted by the National Mental Health Association, students reported that their peers were most often bullied because of their appearance, but the next top reason was because students were gay or perceived to be gay (Pollock, 2006). According to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network 2007 National School Climate Survey, more than 6,000 students revealed that nine out of ten LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (Mason, 2006). Federal government reports that openly gay and lesbian students are at a greater risk of being physically harassed followed by another quarter who reported actually being physically assaulted by other students. In addition, students identified as LGBT teens reported being five times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation (Blackburn, Clark, & Gardner, 2009). About 28 percent of LGBT youth feel forced to drop out of school altogether. Moreover, LGBT adolescents are more than twice as likely as their straight peers to be depressed and contemplate suicide (Pollock, 2006). Suicide is the number one killer of teens between the ages of 14-18 and current headlines seem to substantiate this claim. The many faces and stories linger, as the media spotlights youth’s fatal response to anti-gay bullying(Eminger, 2007). The nation mourns the loss of young teens who have chosen a permanent solution to end their bullying – suicide. Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Jamie Rodenmeyer, Rachel Ehmyer, Amanda Cummings and Tyler Clememti are examples of some of the victims. Although each of their situations...
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