Bullying or ragging can drive individuals to commit suicide.
Bethany Thompson was left with an off-center smile after suffering nerve damage during a procedure to remove a tumor related to her battle with brain cancer. Eight years after defeating the cancer, the 11-year-old Ohio girl shot and killed herself after what her parents believe was relentless bullying over her smile.
Bullying is a “serious public health problem,” and should no longer be dismissed as merely a matter of kids being kids, a leading panel of experts warned Tuesday.
“Its prevalence perpetuates its normalization. But bullying is not a normal part of childhood,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said.
Bullying behavior is seen as early as preschool and peaks during the middle school years, the researchers said. And the problem has morphed from the traditional bully-in-the-schoolyard scenario to newer forms of electronic aggression, such as cyberbullying on social media sites.
Bullying has “lasting negative consequences and cannot simply be ignored,” said Frederic Rivara, chairman of the committee that wrote the report and a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Washington.
“This is a pivotal time for bullying prevention, and while there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice,” Rivara added.
The report said both bullies and their victims can suffer short and long-term consequences, including poor grades, anxiety and depression.
The Education Department has said that students who are bullied also are at a higher risk of suicide.