September 18, 2013

Understanding the Impact of Bullying

Today, Patrick shares more about the impact of bullying and what we can do about it!


Every child deserves a happy, healthy and loving environment to grow up in.  Together we can protect children from abuse, neglect and bullying and lead each child into a brighter future. 

America’s children suffer from a hidden epidemic.  Every year over 3 million children are victims of violence and neglect, and those are only the ones that are reported.  Because this epidemic is so under-reported, the actual number of children being harmed is 3 times greater.

And every day 1 out of 7 kids and teens are approached online by predators, 1 out of 4 kids are bullied.  Depending on the age group, 43% of students say they have been digitally harassed.  9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school and online.  8% of students miss at least 1 day of class per month for fear of Bullies Suicides as a result of bullying are senseless.  No one deserves to be bullied for any reason.

“A lot of parents still think it’s just kids being kids, that it’s a rite of passage or that every kid has to go through a time of being tormented by their peers in order to build character,” says Patrick Dati, owner of You and Me Can Stop Bullies.  “That’s totally false.  We know that it’s very harmful; it actually is peer abuse.”

Unchecked peer abuse can lead to devastating results for children who are bullied.  Children who bully and children who witness the abuse also are at risk for long-term problems.  Those who observe bullying behavior may feel unsafe, powerless to act, guilty for not acting or may even be enticed to participate.  Students who bully others often end up participating in more antisocial behavior – including criminal activity – at an early age.

Wherever groups of children interact, bullying has a way of rearing its head.  The phenomenon is widespread­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—but it’s also avoidable.  Schools can take action against bullying behavior by working to change culture.  With focus and commitment, anti-bullying programs can lead to long-term change.

Bullying affects a reported 15 to 25 percent of students in the United States.  It can be physical, verbal or psychological.  It is characterized by an imbalance of power, repeated incidents between the same children, and intent to cause distress or harm.

And harm it does.  Victimization can have profound effects on children’s physical, psychological, and emotional health.  And these effects can carry over to schools and communities.  Every day, more than 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied.  Prolonged attacks may lead bullied students to drop out of school permanently, abuse drugs, develop violent or antisocial behaviors, or grow dependent on public assistance—societal costs that could have been avoided if bullying were stopped.

Many school leaders see bullying behavior as a problem without a solution.  A rite of passage.  Just part of growing up.  But recent research into the long-term consequences of bullying reveals an issue schools can no longer afford to ignore.

For an anti-bullying program to work, educators have to know exactly what they’re up against.  The program can begin with an anonymous student questionnaire.  This helps educators identify when, where, and among which groups of students bullying is most prevalent—allowing schools to respond accordingly.

Teacher-facilitated discussions with all students (not just those who bully or are victimized) clarify the parameters for interacting with others.  This is more effective than a teacher intervening only after a problem occurs.  The program also provides educators with research-based “scripts” for talking with students, allowing them to speak and handle issues with confidence.

How bullying behavior develops is a complicated issue because of the multitude of factors that can contribute to its development.  The media, cultural issues, temperament, as well as genetic influences probably play a role.  However, parent styles and what parents’ model at home has a lot to do with the messages that children receive from adults.  I often ask parents how conflict with their spouse is experienced by their children.  Does one parent always win and does one parent always lose a battle?  Does one parent always win by using strong authoritarian strategies?  Children observe the way their parents fight, and will either identify with the winner or the loser.  An aggressive child may see that winning through aggression will eventually get you what you want, whereas a child who may be passive may be intimidated and frightened by the aggression.  This child may run away from aggression and identify with empathy, concern and compassion to the parent who is on the losing end of the conflict.

Parenting styles have much to do with how your child “learns to bully”.  Parents who have very strict boundaries, and do not leave a lot of room for children to be themselves may encourage a child to get angry and rebel at different places outside of the home.  These parents may not allow for children to develop caring and empathetic responses, which can further contribute to bullying behavior.  These children may lack remorse for being aggressive because they experience this as normal behavior.  Unfortunately, the combination of aggression and lack of empathy can all be part of bullying.

Check back next week for the conclusion of Patrick's story..


Patrick has now broken his silence and has written a memoir about the abuse and bullying he endured from an older brother throughout his childhood and adult life. The memoir is also a torturous coming out story of a man raised in the midst of a devout Catholic family whose members he loved and spent years trying to please by realizing their dreams for him. He attempted suicide twice, and found freedom and himself one day in three simple words: “I have survived.”

In living to please others, Patrick married twice and today is the proud father of a beautiful and loving 16 year old daughter. Recently, he met a man he loves and is now sharing his life with his partner. Now an advocate for several organizations devoted to preventing childhood abuse and bullying. Available as a public speaker to help victims of abuse and bullying.

Patrick graduated with a BA in Broadcast Communications from Columbia College in Chicago. 


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