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Bullying and Adolescent Suicide

Few things are more heartbreaking than a child taking his or her own life.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among kids aged 10 to 14.   That’s a shocking statistic that leaves us wondering just what could possibly be so bad in a child’s life that ending it all seems like the only way out?

While the CDC points to factors including parental divorce, domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study out the UK finds that suicidal children have very often been the victims of bullying.

The study, conducted by Beatbullying and verified by Dr Benjamin Richardson at Warwick University, reveals that 44% of suicides among 10 to 14-years-olds in the UK were clearly and without a doubt connected to bullying.    While the motivating factors of the remaining  56% can’t be absolutely determined, the researchers feel strongly that many of those were similarly influenced.

Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of Beatbullying, says enough is enough.

“The connection between bullying and child suicide is undeniably clear and the lack of clarity and research in this area is unacceptable – we need action and we need it now.”

Bullies have been around forever but their tactics have gotten far worse.  In the past, a bully might steal your lunch money and call you names.  These days, they are  more likely to spread nasty rumors on the Internet and use social networking to harass their victims 24/7.  But while technology has certainly made it a lot easier for a bully to effectively crush another child’s sense of self-worth, the Internet cannot be blamed for creating a bully’s desire to do those things.

I am saddened by the amount of cruelty and disregard for the feelings of others that I see in so many children these days.  And I think the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the adults in their lives.  Grownups often act like total asses to each other.  Whether it’s snide comments whispered about a stranger in the grocery store, vulgar gestures and cuss words hurled at other drivers on the road, or the mean gossip about friends and family shared at the dinner table, adults often set a horrible example for the children around them.

I want my own child to grow up to be a loving and kind person.  While I watch my own words and actions, I find myself constantly having to make excuses for the bad behavior of others.   Maybe they had a bad day.  Maybe something very difficult is going on their lives.  But as she gets older and witnesses more cruelty and outright meanness among the adults around her, it is getting harder and harder to convince her that people are generally good and the she should be, too.

Image: Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr

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iPads and Toddlers: Meant for Each Other

Should English Spelling Be Modernized?

Helicopter Parents Raise Neurotic Kids

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