Reports have detailed that extreme emotions can cause adolescents to exhibit extreme behavior causing them to kill themselves and others. Two categories of this behavior dealt with in this essay are bullying, with its sub category, cyber-bullying, and depression.
Bullying can have such an adverse effect on a child and adolescent that it can cause them to become ill, and even, to kill himself and others. Reports have shown that cyber bullying, the scourge of the modern day world, can be so extreme that it has caused some adolescents to kill themselves (Billitteri 387).
Victims of bullies are generally lonely, have trouble making friends, and are demonstrated to be five times more depressed than their peers (Greenya, 106) Bullied boys are four times more likely than their peers to be suicidal and bullied girls eight times more likely. The negative effects of bullying can last a lifetime, while society as a whole suffers from the problem since bullying can affect school attendance, academic achievement, and dropout rates. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) found that bullying may keep as much as 160,000 students away from school on any given day. More so, the bullies are generally the ones to become criminal offenders at a later stage (Greenya, 107).
Childhood depression, seems to be on the increase, and appearing in increasingly younger children who attempt to kill themselves and others. Evidenced, as the others have been, by school shootings (for instance in Littleton, Colo.,), depression can stunt the development of crucial social and emotional skills, and the longer the child is left untreated, the more likely it is that he or she may suffer from recurrent bouts of depression throughout his life. Depression can also lead to “self-medication through drug and alcohol abuse or to anorexia, bulimia, self-mutilation, school trouble and trouble with the law” (Koch 595).
“ On an average school day, three out of ten American youngsters are involved in bullying either as perpetrators, victims or bystanders” (Greenya, 100). It seems as though bullying may be particularly problematic in American schools, that it takes the form of insulting physical appearance and mannerisms (atypical kids such as gays and bisexual individuals particularly suffer), and it mostly evidences itself among girls, in the form of sexual slurs, and among boys as a form of aggression where they may slap, hit, or push their victims. Studies have found that cyber bullying, a sub-category, affects millions of adolescents, and impacts more girls than boys, particularly in the early grades. The perpetrators again seem to be mostly girls, particularly in the 15 to 16 year old range.
Just as the constructs of bullying and cyber bullying are unclear, so too has an unclear picture emerged regarding the characteristics of the perpetrators. While some seem to be loners, others may be popular students out for a good time. Indeed, some researchers have concluded that bullies may often be the most popular kids in school (Greenya, 106).
Both bullying and cyber bullying are on the rise, and some child psychologists attribute that increase to the increase in incivility in the larger society. So major a problem has cyber bullying become that some states have passed laws specifically created to address this problem, while others have added cyber bullying to existing statutes. Some say that in creating new laws, legislators are overreacting. Non-intentional online speech can be erroneously mistaken for cyber bullying, and legal rigidity may impinge on freedom of speech (Billitteri, 391). Judges aren’t the only ones who struggle to differentiate troublesome behavior from innocent juvenile jokes. Administrators and teachers are faced with the same problem, as well as is almost anyone in a reliable social position.
The problem is that little research exists on specific, effective anti-bullying interventions (Greenya, 110). Indeed, with all the interventions existent, the rate of success is relatively small. Recommendations include (in the case of cyber bullying) guidance and censor of sites, and strict discipline (in the case of both) if a student was found who engaged in this act. Anti-bullying programs are conducted by schools and non-profit organizations across the country and success is uncertain.
The number of American children taking antidepressants has increased in recent years. It is unclear whether this is because more children are becoming depressed due to the toxicity and stress of modern life, or whether it is because the drug is being abused. Seligman, founder of positive psychology, remarks that: “America has seen 30 years of a concerted effort to bolster the self-esteem of its kids. But they have never been more depressed” (Koch, 608). Either way, greater accessibility to guns make childhood depression a potentially lethal tool, and some experts predict that untreated childhood depression can result in more shootings and in a greater rate of suicide.
In order to avoid such escalating violence, focus should be on identifying and helping kids who suffer from depression (Koch, 611). There is controversy again over the use and extent of anti-depressants. While some suggest limiting them, others bristle at the allegation that these drugs are over-prescribed. Mental-health school-based programs are highly recommended. The biggest challenge, however, is figuring out who pay for this mental health treatment for all the kids. The wealthy ones able to foot the cost: the challenge lies with curing the children from families who can least afford it.
Depression, bullying, and its cyber bullying have been found to be major cause of shootings and killings. Moreover, all three seem to be on the rise in recent years, possibly effected by the toxicity and stress of modern society, although causes are unclear. Although constructs of the latter two are incoherent, interventions among all three shows contradictory results regarding success of these programs, with evaluation leaning towards a negative conclusion. The schools and non-profit organizations have attempted programs in all three cases ranging from educational skills to intervention. In the case of childhood depression, counseling and medication has been added. Nonetheless, given the potential scenario of steady increase and given the massive scale that children are affected, one other challenge still to be addressed in regards to the problem of financing these programs, particularly for the social sector that can least afford it.
Billitteri, Thomas J. “Cyberbullying: Are New Laws Needed to Curb Online Aggression?” CQ Researcher, 18.17: 385-408. 02 May 2008. Web. 22 Dec. 2010.
Greenya, John. “Bullying.” CQ Researcher 4 Feb. 2005: 101-24. Web. 24 Dec. 2010.
Koch, Kathy. “Childhood Depression.” CQ Researcher 16 July 1999: 593-616. Web. 22 Dec. 2010.