I had the amazing fortune to receive this from Christopher Burgess recently.  I am very lucky to have this piece from him to share with you.  This is compelling and I encourage you to read and share with anyone who is concerned with the lives of our children.

—-

Do you ever delve into a stack of statistics and just find yourself mesmerized by the data, data that shocks your inner core?  I had that happen to me recently as I was doing some fact checking surrounding instances of children committing suicide, specifically children who were bullied into suicide by others (both adults and children).  I concluded, we lose too many precious children to “bullyicide.”

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) a person dies of suicide about every 15 minutes or approximately 96 people take their own life each day.  Sadly, for every person who succeeds, there have been between 8 and 25 failed attempts.  That math works out to approximately 800 to 2400 attempted suicides in the United States each day.

Looking solely at the numbers for youth between the ages of 5 and 19 we see that right around age 10, suicide moves up to the third leading cause of death (See table 1).  Sadly, according to the NSPL, the suicide rate amongst young people has more than doubled over the past two decades.

   Rank       Ages 5-9     Ages 10-14       Ages 15-19
1 Unintentional Injury
1,072
Unintentional Injury
1,343
Unintentional Injury
6,616
2 Malignant Neoplasms
485
Malignant Neoplasms
515
Homicide
2,076
3 Congenital Anomalies
196
Suicide
270
Suicide
1,613
4 Homicide
121
Homicide
220
Malignant Neoplasms
731
5 Heart Disease
106
Congenital Anomalies
200
Heart Disease
389

Table 1: Leading Cause of Death of Children

Digging a bit deeper into the available information, I wanted to know where, geographically, suicides were occurring.  I was startled.  No state is exempt.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, based on 2007 data (the most recent), the top ten states are:   Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, West Virginia, Arizona, Oregon and Kentucky based on the number of suicides per 100,000 of population.   (See table two)

I then started digging to see if the statistics would tell me how many of these were the result of bullying? My digging found that in 2010, I was able to confirm 30 cases of suicide which the family, friends, or authorities attributed to bullying.  The age of the children ranged from 9-19 years of age (9-1, 10-0, 11-2, 12-2, 13-3, 14-4, 15-6, 16-2, 17-5, 18-2 and 19-3).   I also found that the vast majority of these suicides were at the first and last thirds of the traditional school year (16 suicides Sep-Nov and 10 suicides Mar-May).  Perhaps this is coincidence how the frequency of bullycide coincides with the academic school year.  (For additional reading see: Bullycide, the end result of cyberbullying and Bullycide: My Time Has Come So Now I’m Gone )

I think you would agree that given the alignment between school year and children being bullied into suicide that an individual investment in educating and making all concerned aware of the realities is warranted.  Read More→

Categories : cyber bullying
Comments (0)

Over the last several months, there has been a great deal of coverage in the news and other media about the increasing incidents of cyber bullying. In the wake of many tragic events , such as the bullying/suicide of Phoebe Prince, there’s been more attention directed on this topic. Author, speaker and security expert Christopher Burgess frequently writes in his blog about the need to do something more about the problem, and described Seattle Public Schools efforts along those lines.

I’m glad to see people are taking this seriously: they should. What worries me is the approach.  Frankly, it’s just more of the same thing we are doing with regards to stopping “traditional bullying.”

What I mean is, we’re approaching the problem of cyber bullying like it’s some new and different form of bullying. And fundamentally, it’s not. It’s bullying. Full stop. It’s just another “tool” to conduct bullying, but it’s the same thing.

Sure, there are some distinct features that make it potentially more troublesome than other forms of bullying. For example, because of the ubiquitous nature of the Internet or electronic media, you have a much easier way to spread rumors, hate-speech and other anti-social communication — it’s a shot-gun approach, not a rifle.  It can also be spread virally, as the damage can be propagated Also, in a lot of cases, the communication can be done anonymously.  So the bully, theoretically can do his/her damage and not be revealed or held accountable.  Further, cyber bullying can be done 7/24/365, from literally anywhere, and the impact can be permanent. Not only is information on websites frequently public, it is stored.  Who knows when awful false claims about someone might resurface?

But underlying it all is the same basic root cause as other bullying: lack of respect, compassion, empathy for other people and their feelings. Yet there is a huge call for programs and initiatives to specifically address cyber bullying.  Again, it’s using the bandaid to deal with another “surface” problem, but who is really looking at what CAUSES it in the first place?

In Mr. Burgess’ blog, he outlines a nine-lesson approach Seattle Public Schools is adopting.  Of those nine lessons, the first is about Respect and Responsibility…the balance of the lessons are specific to cyberbullying, with one lesson on bullying in general; two cover “what to do and where to get help.” We’re spending more time on management and mitigation than we are on prevention. Read More→

Categories : cyber bullying
Comments (2)