A Serious Epidemic
School bullies can kill other children. Bullies do kill
2008 -- An American youth attempts suicide every 42
seconds or more often. Many times it is the result of
This HAS happened in my home state and my home city
as well as many others in the US. Further, some children
that are bullied and cannot tolerate it, stand up to it
or receive help from adults, commit suicide. The incidence
of this phenomenon is receiving increased 21st century
press over young suicides stemming from Internet bullying.
The rise in teen suicides in America is evident
-- In 1950 the rate of suicide among 15-19 year-olds was
2.7 per 100,000. In 1990, it had increased to 11:1 per
100,000, over 300% more. 2008 -- An American youth attempts
suicide at least every 42 seconds.
The activites of abuse are more rampant in America
than in previous years. However, some communities
are making significant strides in solving the problem.
Many Canadian communities and their school systems have
outlawed bully activities of all kinds and take legal
action against school bullies.
Children must be supported by adults in a community
and an educational system in which they can depend on
the fact that bullyism will not be tolerated and which
teach children how to stand up to it.
Some adults in authority do not want to confront
the problem of bullyism at school, this lack of action
• They don't know there is a problem - the target
child has been told not to tell, or is afraid to tell
all on their own, without being threatened.
• Disbelief that the problem is real or not taking
the problem seriously
• Fear of confrontation with the bully, school administration,
bully's family, the press, others
• Not wanting to suffer repercussions from the bully
or his/her family and the community
• Not wanting to "do the paperwork"
• Lack of energy to put forth the effort to fight
• Hoping someone else will solve the problem [Kitty
• Belief that the bullied child got what they deserved
• Belief that kids should fight it out - sometimes
it works, not usually if the bully is the victim of abuse
at home and/or has an SMD (Severe Mental Disorder)
• Some parents punish their children for getting
bullied, because their child is "causing a problem"
*In 1960s New York City - March 4, 1964 - Catherine Genovese
was knifed to death in an area akin to a high rise apartment
building courtyard while tenants and passersby looked
on and did nothing to help her, not even calling for the
police; -- Simon Dinitz, a second generation founder of
criminology. This phenomenon is also called the bystander
syndrome. Spectators used the excuse that it was a lovers'
quarrel or drunken fight by people leaving a bar.
My own thoughts are these: Kitty worked in a NYC bar
and got home at 3:15 AM -- both of these facts (higher
risk nighttime occupation; late hours) hurt her chances
of getting into her apartment unharmed in a high crime
city, but we need to work to eliminate these crimes as
well. The killer was, in fact, caught, jailed, and denied
parole again on March 8, 2008, 44 years later almost to
the day. He was stopped.
Bullycide in America
BULLYCIDE: Homicide & Suicide Examples
The US National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC)
reports that youth and children fear bullyism violence
far more than terrorist attacks to the US. NCPC adds to
the advise later into his column to:
LISTEN to your child and BE
ALERT to symptoms that he/she is a bullying target
- emotional or behavioral withdrawal, dropping grades
on school work, changes in appetite, torn clothing, or
asking for extra money and/or school supplies. TEACH
your child non-violent problem solving skills and the
ability to make supportive friends.
Examples from Canada:
Myles Neuts. Age 10. Hung by the throat from a coat hook
in school at Chatham, Ontario. Died four days later. Hung
by two older boys waiting in a bathroom for him. While
he slowly strangled on the hook, the boys brought their
pals to see "the dummy", but one finally told
a teacher. Not in time to save his life.
Gary Hansen.Age 16. Suicide in Manitoba Province. Pulled
out of school because of bullies in elementary years,
was homeschooled, and returned to public high school,
earning good grades. Gary restored a 20-year-old snowmobile
to excellent condition and six boys taunted him in envy
for nearly three months. The six boys attacked him and
called him gay in public. He went home and hung himself
without telling anyone about the attack. Jennifer Laviolette,
librarian of the local library, wrote a letter to the
editor about bullying in the city, receiving many positive
reactions. Petitions circulated to begin anti-bullying
programs in Manitoba, which have begin to develop.
"Bullying" - Recorded by a young target,
Why Do Bullies Bully?
Some see it in cartoons as a young child and think its
funny. Recall that America is the country that saw the
real punches and kicks on the vaudeville stage by Ted
Healey and His Stooges and later The Three Stooges as
funny. All this occurred in reactions live and on film
between the late 1890s - 1970s (80 years), when people
began to look at abuse more seriously and seek a stop
to it. While the movies put a stop to actual physical
contact early on, young children did not realize it. Cartoon
violence affects some young children as well, not all.
Recall also that this is the country that derived humor
in some parts at some times from physically and verbally
abusing slaves, Chinese, and some Native Americans, as
well as other immigrants that were not WASPS [White Anglo
Saxon Protestants]. Animal torture has also been seen
as highly humorous in some sectors - setting fired to
turpentine rubbed on farm cats, for example.
This is a country that contains some sectors in which
some people still torment gays/lesbians/transgendered,
etc; women, men that don't like sports. High academic
achievers, and a newer group -- high school boys that
are under 6 feet tall. That one is occurring in our western
In summary, one reason that some bullies bully is that
others find it funny or harmless, and the targets "probably
deserve it anyway." In truth, it is all about "power
I solved this in my high school myself when I was a
junior, because no one would ever help me, starting back
in the 1st grade. Juniors and seniors would make fun of
freshmen and sophomores, calling them names, hitting and
kicking them, tripping them, and telling them they could
not use the water fountains or bathrooms until upper classmen
were finished with them. One morning, three senior boys
started in on 4 younger boys and girls in this manner
when I was 5th in a line of 12 seniors and juniors at
a water fountain. I shouted (in front of teachers, who
were put on the spot), "This is not going to happen
any more; get in line ahead of me." It was so sudden
and so surprising that a girl would do this at the time,
that the tradition of water fountain and bathroom hazing
ended. It just lost its wind, since the teachers thought
they needed to enforce it since they'd heard it and could
not escape it via not knowing. Later that day in a study
hall in the auditorium, two girls my age from Russian
Club ran up to my seat and told me to get up and bow down
on the floor because I was newer to the club. I ignored
them and other students laughed. Study hall ended, I went
to the Russian Club teacher and school principal and quit
the club; the teacher was called before the principal.
The bowing down initiation ended. Throughout 10 previous
years of school, I had become fed up with minor hazing
to verbal and physical bullying, saying that enough is
enough after 10 years. I took things into my own hands,
because adults would not help previously.
How many kids can do this? We need to teach them to
resist a bully very early in life.
Mental health issues cause a certain percentage of children
to become bullies. Abuse and Bullying are both "power
over" other people. They are a means to control others.
Children must learn not to be controlled by bullies and
adults much teach them.
Child abuse at home is one cause of these mental health
issues. Abuse is often intergenerational. However, other
mental health concerns can cause bullyism to manifest
and a doctor should be consulted in order to rule out
physical or nutritional causes first. A child can also
learn to be a bully from watching others bully people
and animals - and verbal abuse is the first step toward
physical abuse in the majority of reported cases. (Nip
it in the bud there!) Some children stand up for themselves,
so the bully turns it around and accuses the target of
being the bully. Adults need to see through this ruse.
How to Handle a School Bully
Canadian school principles advise us to use and teach
the following methods that they have found effective during
the last 10+ years. American researches, teachers, and
principals have gathered corroborating evidence for the
following as well:
• Stand up straight and look the bully in the eye
seriously and strongly.
• Say politely and firmly, "Stop _____ (state
the behavior), I don't like it. Leave me alone."
• Try to disengage by not crying or looking fearful,
if you can. In any way, disconnect by walking away.
• Report the bullying immediately to a trusted adult
and adopt an attitude they you expect action to be taken
against the bully.
Families of Targets
• Call the school anonymously, and ask if there
is a bullying policy and ask what it is.
• If you are then sure that your child will not
be retaliated against, tell the school officials about
the specific bullying and state the exact date, time,
and place and the name of the bully and your child.
• Follow-up continually with the school and ask
about specific action taken and how your child will be
• If there is no anti-bully policy in the school
system, teach your child the steps in "Children"
• Self defense classes may or may not help. Many
school systems in the USA forbid children to physically
defend themselves at school. Parents in families of most
of my martial arts students tell the kids to defend themselves
if they need to and smile and be cooperative through their
• Be careful, because a number of martial arts school
owners are not qualified in certain areas of the country.
Martial arts are not regulated by law and anyone can open
a school, even if they have never studied martial arts,
or are low-ranking black belts without enough experience
(there are 10 to at least 18 levels of black belt, perhaps
more, depending on the style of martial arts.)
• Ask your local police department how you should
handle the situation.