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Youths Turn to Knives Use to Defend Themselves Against Bullying
by Gemma Perry
Bullying in the USA
Despite growing media interest and the efforts of bullying programs across the nation, bullying continues to be a problem in the US, especially for children and youths. Bullying is one of the most common forms of violence, with the National Association of School Psychologists noting that the practices rises in elementary school, reaches its maximum point in middle school and tapers off in highschool. Members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community are at a particular risk of being bullied, with over 64% stating they do not feel safe in their school owing to their sexual orientation/gender type. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death in our youth, and those who have been bullied are between two and nine times more likely to think of taking their lives, than those who have not been bullied. The extent of bullying continues to be a source of worry, since statistics show that almost one third of students saying they have been bullied at school. As we shall show below, the effects of bullying are felt long after the incidents themselves have ceased. Moreover, there is a direct link between bullying and the increased use of knifes.
Bullying has extended its reach into the World Wide Web; approximately 83% of girls and 79% of buys report having been bullied online or at school. It is estimated that over 160,000 students miss school every day to escape from bullying and one in 10 drop out of school for the same reason. Cyberbullying is a particularly devastating form of bullying, owing to its ability to reach a wide audience in such little time.
Knives as a Form of Self-Defense
A study based on data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that thousands of children who are victims of bullying are bringing weapons to school to defend themselves. Researchers estimate that around 250,000 of children carry knives, guns or clubs to school, meaning that in every single classroom, at least one child may be hiding a weapon. The researchers found that there were four factors that increase the risk of a child carrying weapons to school:
- If a student avoids going to school because of fears they could be attacked on the way to, or at school.
- If their property has been taken or damaged.
- If they have been bullied or threatened with the use of a weapon.
- If they have been involved in a physical fight.
The study also showed that victims have a greater likelihood of coming from lower grades, and being white and female. Some 8.6% of bullied kids carry weapons to schools, compared to 4.7% of kids who have not been subject to bullying. Researchers concluded that teachers needed to be more aware of the fact that those carrying weapons could pose a threat to themselves and to others. Therefore, their task was to watch out for victims, as well as attempt to spot cases of bullying.
Long-term effects of bullying
In addition to affecting the academic results, health and happiness of children at school, bullying has long-term effects which can wrest from a person’s health and wellbeing for the rest of their lives. Some long-term psychological effects can include anxiety disorders, depression and panic disorders. Moreover, victims also have poorer health outcomes. For instance, those who have been bullied tend to have higher levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in adulthood. CRP is a biomarker of chronic inflammation, which is linked to heart disease and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which, taken together, increase the chance of heart disease and diabetes). Other consequences of having been victimized include headaches, digestive upsets, muscle pain, weight fluctuations and a weakened immune system. In many ways, the mere act of having been bullied can shorted our life expectancy, as well as wrest from its quality.
Clearly, it isn’t just a job for teachers to stop bullying at its root. Parents, too, should be aware of what their children may be going through and they should check to see whether or not there is a possibility that they may be taking weapons to school. It is vital that victims receive professional help as soon as possible, to reduce the severity of long-term consequences of bullying.
Nobullying.com, Bullying Statistics 2014, accessed February, 2014.
Forbes.com, The Psychological Effects of Bullying Last Well Into Adulthood, accessed February, 2015.
Osteopathic.org, Cyber Bullying and its Effect on Our Youth, accessed February, 2015.
Center for Violence and Injury Prevention at Washington University’s Brown School, Taking Flight: Bullying and Suicide Among Adolescents, accessed February, 2015.