Bullying problem is often pushed to the side

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At a bullying conference at the College of Eastern Utah on March 25, Jan Thornton discussed this problem and ways to prevent it from happening. Bullying is often pushed to the side and disregarded. Its not something that people often consider or think about until it becomes a problem.

Dan Olweus, a Norwegian researcher, based the definition of bullying on his work. He stated that bullying is "exposure, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other students."

In these times where technology is the life support of anyone who owns a cell phone, laptop or iPod, an entirely new window has opened for bullying. Abusive prank phone calls and texting has become a common way of bullying children and teens. The Internet created a way for people to create Web logs, blogs or other means to gossip and verbally abuse their victims, Thornton said.

The short term consequences of bullying can be physical such as black eyes, bruises and in some cases broken bones. But the long term consequences and effects can be much more damaging and lasting. Often times victims will, even years after being bullied, relapse back into those feelings of hurt, depression and fear. Bullying is emotionally scarring and there are many instances of long-term effects. It can even cause a person to become criminally active later in life, not to mention the physical and mental health problems that can result.

Research shows some of the results and consequences that victims of bullies experience including social, educational and health problems. Many youth victims who are bullied have much higher rates of suicide, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

A report published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in 2003 found that bullying at home or at school may lead to more aggressive behavior as the child gets older. Studies have found that often children that are victims will be found carrying weapons to school and other places and have a tendency to become violent and aggressive.

If someone is the victim of bullying, there are some options that can help you solve your problem. Although it may be difficult, try to show no emotion when someone is trying to bully and provoke anger or other emotions. Indifference and agreeing with someone can be a great ally because it's really hard to verbally abuse and argue with someone that doesn't care or agrees. Also, at the first instances of bullying, go to a teacher, counselor or person of authority like the police so that the problem doesn't escalate out of control.

It is not only the bullies and the victims that are involved in the act, but also those who witness what happened. Olweus placed the different types of bystanders into categories to help be aware of the different parts of bullying. There are followers that take an active part, but do not start the bullying; Supporters/passive bullies that support the bullying but do not take an active part in it; passive supporters/possible bullies that like the bullying but do not display open support; disengaged onlookers who watch what happens but do not take a stand; possible defenders that dislike the bullying and think they ought to help but do not; and there are the defenders of the victim who dislike the bullying and help, or try to help, the victim.

It is a very difficult thing to stand up for someone in front of others or to step out of a comfort zone, but those victims of bullying need someone to help them and someone that is willing to be a friend who can give support, guidance and the greatly needed help. Be a defender, she says.

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