Written by Indira Blazevic Karic October 7, 2014
For the longest time, a kid picking on another kid on the playground was viewed as "just a part of life"; a sort-of "rite of passage" into adulthood. This is no longer the case and bullying ought not to be accepted as such. Bullying has relatively recently become a more pressing issue in the media and in public discourse. This is not because bullying did not exist before, but because it has been one of those issues with which, for various reasons, society did not want to bother, as it was normalized. Now, partly due to the strong media focus on children and adolescents who have committed suicide as a result of bullying, and the eagerness of legislators to address the issue due to public pressure, bullying is an issue that society can no longer ignore. It is linked to impacts in education, workforce, and health, in addition to being more broadly, a human rights issue.
The dynamics of bullying have changed over the years. It is no longer the scenario of a kid picking on another kid on the playground (not to imply that this example is any less severe or harmful). We now know that bullying can take many forms and can be perpetrated through various mediums. For example, the term cyberbullying refers to the trend of more and more children and adolescents having an online presence, coupled with the existence of bullying. Cyberbullying is manifested through various technology mediums, including e-mail, cell phones, and the internet, in general. This constant “connectedness” makes bullying intolerable and quite severe. On the other hand, with more awareness, the term “bullying” has become so prevalent, that the unintended consequences are that it can easily be ignored again and we revert back to inaction.
Therefore, there is a lot of work to be done with regards to bullying and the forms that it takes today, as well as the impact that it specifically has on our children and adolescents, although also common among adults. Bullying impacts every part of a child’s life, including health, academics and socio-emotional development. We often say that children are our future, and if we are investing in our future, bullying, along with other types of social and emotional factors, ought to be one of our key priorities due to its vast effects.