A recent article has been written asking the question as to why can’t we stop the problem of bullying. The Georgia Coalition Against Bullying will be meeting soon and earlier in the summer the American Academy of Pediatrics was encouraged to start taking a bigger role in the prevention of bullying. Is bullying really just a fact of life?

First off, bullying is not a fact of life. The only fact given here is that it traumatizes individuals for a lifetime and it violates civil and human rights. In the United States, we are all promised life, liberty and pursuit of happiness but even these are violated when being abused by our peers. There is no excuse for it and it has been a right of passage for far too long. It can be stopped, it is just a matter of education.

I am going to be honest here and give my own opinion. I know many will disagree and that is fine. Those who know me or have worked with me know where I stand on this. One of the biggest problems here is that we do not consider this a form of abuse. We continue to use the term bullying. Even though the term has taken us a long way in the past 10 years, it is still not hitting the bulls eye. I am to a point where I cannot even use the term bullying as it just is not working where it should. However, I have to because it is the term people know and do not seem to want to let go of. Bullying is outright abuse; Peer Abuse. Yes, just like child, sexual, domestic, animal and elder abuse that we are quick to defend and hold accountability where needed. True, not in all cases but at least they are considered clinical issues. Bullying is not seen as a clinical issue. We are all in such a hurry to speak out and find solutions yet have we even stopped to try and understand the actual problem? I consider putting a victim and their bully alone in a room together to “work things out” like putting a victim and their rapist together in the same manner. Now we would never do the latter, that is unthinkable! However, we always do the former. When I talk to groups, I always equate this with rape, child and other forms of abuse and I ask this question. Its all about mindset and educating others on this mindset. Having the American Academy of Pediatrics on board is a huge step. We need to have hospitals, mental health centers and others trained to treat those dealing with this problem as in any other form of abuse.

Another problem here is that society does not believe that we should hold children accountable for these actions. True, a child’s brain is not formed to full capacity like an adults. Therefore, we cannot hold them accountable for these sort of actions. Even though we cannot hold them accountable like an adult, we sure can hold them accountable to a point. Children are not stupid; they know what abuse is. Don’t we always tell them that when an adult is abusing them, they need to tell someone? Why is this any different? The only difference is that an adult is doing the abuse in one case while a child is doing it in another. Children need to learn to be held accountable for their actions. They understand rules and comprehend them. Why do you think we have tattle tales roaming the playground? Trust me, they have a concrete understanding of right and wrong.

Everyday we are losing children to this problem. They are killing one another and themselves. Clinical issues are arising such as depression, social anxiety and PTSD from this. I have seen people get a different perspective of this when I equate this with other forms of abuse. They say they never thought of this in that light. Isn’t it time we take this to the next level? The clinical level?

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Elizabeth Bennett is the Author and Consultant of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From a Psychological Perspective. Please visit Peer Abuse Know More! to learn more.

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