Bullying behavior is getting a good bit of attention in the media lately, partly because of some high-profile suicides by victims of bullies. Bullycide is a new term that refers to this disturbing trend. Suicide is the 3rd highest cause of death in the 13-18 year old age bracket.

Bullying includes unwanted physical contact, threats, intimidation, vandalism, property damage, cruel teasing, spreading rumors, and shaming.

This can occur in person, over the phone, and through texting, social networking, and internet postings. About 20% of children in 6th through 12th grade report being victims of bullies.

For bullying to occur, 3 things usually happen:

  1. The bully believes that he or she can bully with no consequences.
  2. The bully and the target believe that the target is weaker than the bully and can be taken advantage of.
  3. The bully has learned that bullying gets him or her some needs met.

There are long-term consequences to allowing bullies to continue with that behavior. Bullies are five times more likely to be convicted of a felony by age 30 and four times more likely to have at least one criminal conviction by age 24. Bullies don’t develop social skills of collaboration and cooperation. They don’t develop empathy.

Family therapy can be helpful for targets and bullies alike. Both parties need support and social skill development. By changing these patterns we give children and teens brighter futures and the hope for healthier relationships.

For information about bullying, click on the Stop Bullying! website.

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