Some Teen Bullying Viewed as Less Serious by Adults

Friday September 28, 2012

By Sherri M. Gordon

Several days ago, I read an article about a recent University of Michigan bullying poll. According to the article, adults don't see some bullying behaviors as much in need of intervention as others.

For instance, 95 percent of the respondents felt that schools should intervene in bullying incidents where bullies cause victims to fear for their safety. But only 56 percent of the respondents felt schools should take action when a bully isolates or excludes another student.

The poll also found that many people don't consider certain actions bullying. While 90 percent of the people polled felt that threatening a person's physical safety is bullying, less than half of the respondents felt isolating a peer was bullying. Meanwhile, only 59 percent felt that spreading rumors was bullying and 62 percent agreed that embarrassing or humiliating someone was bullying.

Unfortunately, these numbers do not surprise me. Often, when I am casually talking about bullying, I will hear someone say something that is clearly a misconception about the issue. For example, one parent told me once that bullying would make my son a stronger, tougher person. And another parent insisted that if her child was being bullied, he would tell her.

It's also disappointing when adults minimize the impact of bullying on kids. What they don't realize is that bullying can have a lasting effect on a person influencing their self-esteem, their health and their happiness.

In some cases, bullying has caused such a sense of hopelessness in the victims' lives that they see no way out. Suicide, they think, is their only option for relief. Really, bullying should never be allowed to come to this. Parents and other adults need to be willing to intervene and provide support for victims.

To learn more about bullying and its effects check out 10 Common Myths and Misconceptions about Bullying and What Are the Costs of Bullying? Make sure you are able to not only dispel the myths about bullying, but that you also grasp the pain it can cause victims.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

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