A couple of news items caught my eye this week on the topic of bullying and the broad, long-term consequences it can have on those who experience it. First up is a video of a violent incident on a school bus that was released this week. It appears to show a group of three children savagely beating another child on the bus, all while the driver makes only minimal efforts to intervene.
Media story of assault against student on a Florida school bus
Like any other social issue, pundits have long lined up to debate the causes, forms, and effects of bullying – often from diametrically opposed perspectives. Some claim it’s just “kid stuff” and to be expected, while others cite it as the basis for more serious violence, such as school shootings.
The result? A lot of confusion.
This past week, though, a study was published showing that bullying was indeed a factor in the future criminal behavior of those victimized by it. Overall, 20% of repeatedly bullied children in the study were later convicted of a crime and served time in prison, compared with just 11% in a group of non-bullied children.
There were no observed differences in outcomes based on race or ethnicity, but there were some differences based on gender. Bullied girls tended to have poorer outcomes than bullied boys in terms of later use of drugs or alcohol.
While one study does not a consensus make, if these findings are to be taken at face value, they would appear to support the idea that bullying’s consequences are more than just “kid stuff.” In fact, bullying is preventable experience that takes a toll on society overall via the increased likelihood of future crime and chemical health issues.
In other words, we all pay the price for bullying.
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