This Is What It Really Feels Like to Be Bullied. [ Huffington Post, by Anna Koppelman, 17/12/2015 ].

I couldn’t fall asleep last night. As I lay there staring at the celling, I tried to piece together what must be wrong with me. I’m a total loser with no friends. I am not invited to any parties, and the only person who likes to hang out with me during free time is the school nurse. I kept wondering how I was going to force myself to go to school the next day. How was I going to walk in the door? I kept wondering, how I was going to face the pain for another day?

I have been bullied since the first day of kindergarten. I can dissect everything a dirty look has to say within seconds. I have perfected the feeling of being isolated, and I am an Olympic athlete when it comes to eating lunch alone. My room is covered with inspirational quotes: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.” I’m constantly being told that it will all get better. That if I can get though the hard part, if I can hug the monster, one day all of this will be in the distant past, and the kids who torture me now will just be a mere blimp in my oblivion. I have been trying since the first day of kindergarten when the mean girl took a permanent maker to the picture of a flower I spent all day working on to convince myself that the future will be better, but I am tired of coming home crying. I am tired of eating lunch alone in the ink section of the Staples two blocks away from my school. I am tired of being the victim of “catty girls” and “stupid boys.” I am tired of waiting for some future that seems farther and farther away each morning I have to convince myself to go to school. I am tired of playing the friend game. I am tired of being punished for being myself.

When I was in fourth grade, Lindsay* dumped a mixture of Oreos and dirt right onto my head. I didn’t even flinch. Instead I smiled and twirled. My grandmother once told me that if you smiled at someone they couldn’t help but smile back. So that’s what I did. I looked Lindsay right in the eyes and hoped that she would smile back. She didn’t. Instead she laughed. She laughed at the freak that smiled and twirled after cookies and dirt were thrown on her head. When people talk about bullying they never seem to grasp the kind of pain I feel every day walking into school. It’s the kind of pain that’s hollow. The kind that makes you feel like shattering glass. The kind of pain that makes your heart physically hurt. I have lost all my ability to walk though hallways smiling, with my head up high. I forgot how to wave at people I don’t know. When I walk though the halls, I look at my phone. I scroll though Facebook, I text my parents, I watch TED talks. I get to class; I sit down, look at my watch. I tell myself that there are only X amount of hours left in the day and that I’ll be safe soon, curled up in bed with Netflix and tea.

Tomorrow morning I will wake up and play “Shake it Off” really loudly, then I’ll proceed to tell myself all the anecdotes I have spent hours studying of celebrities who survived bullying. Finally, I will drag myself out of bed, force myself to wash my face, put makeup on, wear decent clothes, brush my hair and eat breakfast. I’ll tell myself again and again that it will be okay until I am out the door and biting my nails on the walk to school. I don’t want it to be like this. I want school to be a safe place. I want to be able to walk though hallways with my head held high. I want to be treated like I am somebody worth something, I want to have friends and people waiting for me at lunch, but more than anything, I want to wake up one morning truly happy without a worry of what will happen next. I want to be able to walk out the door ready, and excited for a new day. I want to wake up one morning and not have to reassure myself that everything will be okay. I don’t understand why I am not allowed to have that.

Being bullied throughout childhood and teens may lead to more arrests, convictions, prison time [ Medical Xpress, 1/8/2013 ]

People who were repeatedly bullied throughout childhood and adolescence were significantly more likely to go to prison than individuals who did not suffer repeated bullying, according to a new analysis presented at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention.

Almost 14 percent of those who reported being bullied repeatedly from childhood through their teens ended up in prison as adults, compared to 6 percent of non-victims, 9 percent of childhood-only victims, and 7 percent of teen-only victims, the study found. When comparing rates of convictions, more than 20 percent of those who endured chronic bullying were convicted of crimes, compared to 11 percent of non-victims, 16 percent of childhood victims, and 13 percent of teen victims. Compared to nonwhite childhood victims, white childhood victims faced significantly greater odds of going to prison, according to the study.

“Previous research has examined bullying during specific time periods, whereas this study is the first to look at individuals’ reports of bullying that lasted throughout their childhood and teen years, and the legal consequences they faced in late adolescence and as adults,” said Michael G. Turner, PhD, of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

The results also revealed that women who were chronically bullied from childhood through their teens faced significantly greater odds of using alcohol or drugs, and of being arrested and convicted than men who had grown up experiencing chronic bullying.

Turner analyzed data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The survey involved 7,335 individuals between the ages of 12 and 16 as of Dec. 31, 1996. The sample reflected the demographics of the United States.

The analysis identified four groups: non-victims (74 percent); those bullied repeatedly before the age of 12 (15 percent); those bullied repeatedly after the age of 12 (6 percent); and those repeatedly victimized before and after the age of 12 (5 percent). Accounts of repeated bullying were collected over several periods and the legal outcomes were assessed when participants’ were in their late teens or adults. These relationships were also examined across gender and race. The study followed youths over a 14-year period from early adolescence into adulthood.

“This study highlights the important role that health care professionals can play early in a child’s life when bullying is not adequately addressed by teachers, parents or guardians,” Turner said. “With appropriate questions during routine medical checkups, they can be critical first points of contact for childhood victims. Programs that help children deal with the adverse impacts of repeated bullying could make the difference in whether they end up in the adult legal system.”

Bullied Kids More Likely to Commit Crimes As Adults [ Live Science, By Denise Chow, 1/8/2013 ]

People who were bullied throughout childhood and adolescence are more likely than others to engage in delinquent or criminal behavior later in life, a new study finds.

In the new research, scientists found that about 14 percent of those who reported suffering repeated bullying through their childhood and teenage years — up to 18 years of age — wound up serving time in prison as adults. In comparison, 6 percent of people who did not experience bullying ended up in prison.

 [Pin It] Credit: Dreamstime
[Pin It] Credit: Dreamstime

“Most studies focus on a relatively narrow period of the life course, but I looked at victimization from birth to age 18 and then associated that with legal outcomes — whether they got involved with substance abuse, got arrested, convicted or were sent to incarceration,” said Michael Turner, an associate professor in the department of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. [10 Scientific Tips for Raising Happy Kids]

Turner is presenting the findings today (Aug. 1) at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention, which is being held from July 31 to Aug. 4 in Honolulu.

Bullying and crime

In his analysis, Turner found that compared with nonbullied individuals, victims of bullying had higher rates of criminal conviction. More than 20 percent of those who were bullied throughout childhood and adolescence were convicted of crimes, compared with 11 percent of nonvictims. Sixteen percent of individuals who experienced childhood bullying, up to age 12, were convicted of crimes, with 13 percent of victims who were bullied during adolescence (from age 12 to 18) experiencing similar legal outcomes later in life.

“Being victimized at any point in time was associated with higher odds of delinquency, substance abuse, arrests and convictions in late adolescence and adulthood,” Turner told LiveScience. “But chronic victims — those who were bullied in childhood and adolescence — had the highest odds of adverse legal outcomes.”

Previous studies have found relationships between young people who bully others and delinquent behavior later in life, but Turner’s study shows that victims of bullying can also be negatively affected in the long run.

“Most studies found bullying and offenders are associated with higher crime,” Turner said. “I found support that being a victim is also associated with adverse legal outcomes. Most research hasn’t found this relationship.”

Growing pains

For the study, Turner relied on data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The survey included 7,335 people reflective of U.S. demographics, who were ages 12 to 16 as of Dec. 31, 1996.

Turner separated the individuals into four groups: nonvictims (74 percent of survey respondents); those who suffered bullying before age 12 (15 percent); those who were bullied after age 12 (6 percent); and those who experienced bullying during childhood and adolescence (5 percent).

The youths were followed over a 14-year period, and victimization reports were collected over several periods. Criminal incidents were assessed when the survey participants were in their late teenage years or early adulthood.

The study did not account for severity of bullying and did not focus on the socioeconomic status of the respondents.

Through his analysis, however, Turner did identify some gender differences. “Majority of the significant gender differences tended to sway in favor of females being more adversely affected than males,” Turner said. He found no significant differences across races and ethnicities.

What to do?

The results suggest bullying is particularly detrimental early in development.

“There are certainly prevention programs out there, for schools and parents, and if you don’t deal with these problems early, they could turn into bigger problems,” Turner said. “Early prevention is always a better outlook.”

And despite relying on data that had been collected in the mid-’90s, Turner does not anticipate major differences had the survey been conducted among youth today.

“The method by which individuals are bullied now is quite a bit different than what existed then,” Turner said. “Specifically, there’s a lot more technology-based cyberbullying. The method is a little different, but it’s still verbal, physical, emotional or psychological.”

Turner plans to submit the research for peer review, prior to publication, at the end of this year’s American Psychological Association meeting.

Pupils beaten and handcuffed on school trip, claim parents [ Irish Independent, by Cormac McQuinn, 24/06/2013 ]

Tomas O Dulaing

A COMPLAINT has been made to gardai after children were allegedly handcuffed and beaten by fellow pupils on a school trip.

Parents have complained that children from Griffeen Valley Educate Together School in Dublin were seriously bullied by classmates on a trip to a Gaelteacht in Co Donegal.

They have claimed that their children were handcuffed before being punched and kicked by other pupils during a visit to the Annagary Irish-speaking area.

According to one parent, the teachers slept in one house during the five-night trip in May, while the children were housed in a nearby property.

Several parents staged a sit-in at the school in Lucan after the trip to force the board of management to hold an emergency meeting on the matter.

It is understood that the school’s anti-bullying procedures have been implemented, including suspensions and mediation and counselling for pupils.

Principal Tomas O Dulaing did not respond to Irish Independent attempts to contact him last night.

He is a member of the United Left Alliance and is vocal on issues relating to cuts in funding for education, was involved in a very public row with local FG TD Derek Keating last month.

CYNICAL

He accused the TD of “gross cynical opportunism” for sending a leaflet to constituents highlighting his involvement in securing a school extension for Griffeen Educate Together.

The controversy deepened after Mr Keating’s aide, Tommy Morris, was caught on CCTV removing copies of a local newspaper which was reporting on the row.

Gardai are investigating the disappearance of hundreds of copies of the ‘Lucan Gazette’ bearing the headline, ‘Principal Blasts Keating’s Leaflet’.

Complaints about the alleged bullying on the school trip are understood to have been made to gardai. Mr Keating has called for an independent investigation into what he called “a very serious issue and not a school yard bullying incident”, saying he was raising the issue because some of the parents had approached him for help.

He said he has “never had to support parents who are so distressed” in his 14 years as a public representative.

He said he intended to raise the incident by special notice in the Dail this week and would ask why parents allegedly had to hold a sit in protest in the school staff room to ensure the board of management discussed the bullying claims.

Dad of tragic Ciara bullied online warns other parents [ Irish Independent, by Greg Harkin, 2/10/2012 ]

pugsley456

THE father of a beautiful teenage schoolgirl who took her own life after being bullied online today warns other parents of the dangers of social media.

 

Ciara Pugsley (15) who committed suicide 12 days ago. Her father Jonathan has spoken out about how she suffered online bullying and he wants to bring the dangers of social networking sites to light
Ciara Pugsley (15) who committed suicide 12 days ago. Her father Jonathan has spoken out about how she suffered online bullying and he wants to bring the dangers of social networking sites to light

Ciara Pugsley (15), who successfully represented her local GAA team, took her own life 12 days ago in a tragedy of appalling proportions.

Detectives are investigating claims she was bullied on the ask.fm website.

Her dad Jonathan spoke to this newspaper in order to alert other parents of the dangers to their children online.

“I’m reminded of Ciara every single minute of the day, I’m always doing something that reminds me of her,” said the 46-year-old engineer.

“Ciara was a special girl. She was outgoing and involved in so many clubs. She loved horse-riding, GAA and everything else that was going on.

“She wasn’t the girl who sat in the corner and was quiet. She was at the centre of everything and that’s why the local community in Leitrim is so upset because so many people knew her,” said Mr Pugsley.

Ciara Pugsley (15), who successfully represented her local GAA team, took her own life 12 days ago in a tragedy of appalling proportions.

Detectives are investigating claims she was bullied on the ask.fm website.

Her dad Jonathan spoke to this newspaper in order to alert other parents of the dangers to their children online.

“I’m reminded of Ciara every single minute of the day, I’m always doing something that reminds me of her,” said the 46-year-old engineer.

“Ciara was a special girl. She was outgoing and involved in so many clubs. She loved horse-riding, GAA and everything else that was going on.

“She wasn’t the girl who sat in the corner and was quiet. She was at the centre of everything and that’s why the local community in Leitrim is so upset because so many people knew her,” said Mr Pugsley.

Ciara's fatherJonathan Pugsleyat the HerbertPark hotel inBallsbridge,Dublin last night
Ciara’s father, Jonathan Pugsley, at the Herbert Park hotel in Ballsbridge,Dublin last night

 

Mr Pugsley, from Somerset, moved with his Irish-born wife Aggie and their three children to Dromahair, Co Leitrim, 12 years ago. “My wife is Irish and wanted to come home and Leitrim was perfect. The country living and the country schools and all the activities — you couldn’t have asked for a better place.

She was a popular student at St Clare’s Comprehensive and had represented Leitrim Ladies

Gaelic football team at under-14 level, reaching the junior all-Ireland final last year.

“I had no idea until 12 days ago that Ciara was being bullied. There were no signs of it,” said Mr Pugsley.

“Of course when I was at school we didn’t have the internet and any arguments there were settled there. But nowadays it continues online and on into the evening and right through until 2 o’clock at night.

“I have heard of Bebo and Facebook like every other parent but I had never heard of this site ask.fm, where bullies can be completely anonymous,” he said.

Mr Pugsley described the site — based in Latvia — as “extremely sinister”. He said he didn’t expect to be able to campaign for its closure because “another would just pop up anyway”.

 

Ciara Pugsley
Ciara Pugsley

“If I can, I want to help educate people about what these sites are and what they can do to young people.”

The grieving father said he had been taken aback by some of the comments he had read about his daughter online before and after her death.

“It is very scary,” he said, “and very sinister and you wonder about these people (making comments). But if I can help to educate people about being safe online then I will.”

Last night he appeared on RTE’s ‘Frontline’ TV programme to help that process.

He said his other daughter Abigail (20) and son Daniel (18) were “utterly devastated” by Ciara’s death.

“Daniel has taken it badly because he had just started to take Ciara out to underage discos and introduce her to his friends,” said Jonathan. “He was particularly close to her.”

Meanwhile, the rate of male suicide has dropped slightly but it remains relatively constant for women, a new report revealed yesterday.

Prevention

However, suicide is still significantly more likely among males than females, the report of the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention said.

Male suicide steadily increased from 8.4 per 100,000 in 1980, to 23.5 in 1998, falling to 20.0 in 2009.

The suicide rate is highest for young males aged between 20 and 24 and for females aged between 50 and 54.

There were 552 deaths by suicide in 2009, representing a rate of 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population.

Compared to other European standards, Ireland has the sixth lowest rate of death by suicide, with a reported rate of 10.3 per 100,000, compared with the lowest rate of 3.9 in Greece and the highest of 34 in Lithuania.

Almost half of kids with autism are bullied, study shows [ CBS News.com, by Michelle Castillo, 4/9/2012 ].

CBS News
CBS News

(CBS News) Almost half of adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder have been the victims of bullying, according to a new study.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a variety of different neurodevelopmental disorders that often cause social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, according to the National Institutes of Health. Social interaction is especially difficult for people diagnosed with the disorder. About 1 out of 88 children by the age of 8 will have an ASD, with males four times more likely to have autism than females.

Complete coverage: Latest developments in autism
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Survey finds 63% of children with autism bullied

“Many of the defining characteristics of autism are the ones that put them at greatest risk of bullying,” Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, deputy director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence and an expert on bullying at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.

Bradshaw was not involved in the study, but said in her experience kids with an ASD have a hard time picking up on sarcasm and humor, which makes them easy targets.

While there have been spotlights on bullying, very few studies have focused on bullying of kids with ASD. A survey in March conducted by Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism Network (IAN) of 1,200 parents showed that 63 percent of kids with autism had been bullied and they were three times more likely to be bullied than their siblings who did not have the disorder.

This study, published online in September 2012 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, surveyed 920 parents and discovered that 46.3 percent of adolescents with an ASD had been victimized by bullying. Compared to the national average of 10.6 percent of kids, the number was “substantially higher.”

The rates were similar to the national average when it looked at autistic kids who were bullies (14.8 percent) and kids who were both experienced victimization and perpetration, meaning kids who both are bullied and bully (8.9 percent.)

Victims were more likely to be non-Hispanic ethnicity, have an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, have lower social skills, have some form of conversational ability and have more classes in general education. The perpetrators tended to be white, have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and hung out with friends at least once a week. Those who were both bullied and victimized typically were white non-Hispanic, had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and got together with friends at least once a week.

The researchers wrote that classrooms should increase social integration of adolescents with ASD and help students who don’t have ASD understand, interact and empathize with kids who have ASD and other developmental disorders.

“Future interventions should incorporate content that addresses the core deficits of adolescents with an ASD, which limits their verbal ability to report bullying incidents,” the authors commented. “Schools should incorporate strategies that address conversational difficulties and the unique challenges of those with comorbid conditions.”

“This study confirms what we know,” Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami and associate director of the school’s Mailman Center for Child Development, said to HealthDay. “It’s clear that kids with disabilities are much more likely to be victims of bullying,” he said. “We need to figure out better ways to prevent this — for all children.”

Schools That Stonewall: What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied and the School Is Unresponsive [ huffingtonpost.com, by Jodee Blanco, 3/2/2012 ]

If you’re the parent of a bullied child who’s frustrated with a lack of responsiveness from your son’s or daughter’s school, if you’ve tried everything from meeting with the counselor to talking to the principal, perhaps even contacting the superintendent, and your child is still coming home in tears every day, don’t lose hope.

I’m a bullying survivor turned activist who travels the nation’s schools working with students, faculty, and parents to help save lives. I know first-hand the anguish for both parents and administrators when there’s a child in crisis. Parents, you need to keep a cool head and be guided by reason, not emotion. The calmer you are, the more you’ll achieve with the school. Making threats or irrational demands can diminish your credibility and put everyone on the defensive. You need to approach the school ready to cooperate and focus on finding solutions that won’t benefit just your child but the student body as a whole.

Also, try and keep in mind that despite their cruel behavior, most bullies are good kids in bad circumstances acting out in a cry for help. Finding it in your heart to feel some compassion for your child’s bully (I know it’s a lot to ask) is far more likely to turn the situation around than giving in to anger. Encourage the school to find out what’s driving the bully’s behavior. Perhaps something is going on at home, and he or she is bringing that anger and fear with them to class. It makes fitting in even more important, because for some of these kids, their friends are their only support and solace. And if they’re feeling insecure, the bullying can get worse. The key to breaking the cycle is the curiosity of caring adults, and that includes you, the parents of the victims. Don’t jump to conclusions about your child’s bully. Ask questions, and encourage the school to ask questions, too. The solutions that offer the strongest long-term results are those that address the best interests of both bully and victim.

If you reach an impasse with the school or find you are being stonewalled, here are some specific steps to inspire action:

  • Document, document, document! Help your child keep a journal of abuses; jot down dates, times, and details. If there were witnesses, write down their names. For cyber-bullying, print out all nasty or threatening emails, blog or Facebook postings, instant messages, etc. Document threatening or demeaning cell phone texts, as well. Many cell phones allow you to snap a screen photo of the text messages. You can also email the texts to yourself and then print them out.
  • Ask your child the names of other kids at school who are also being bullied. Reach out to their parents, share with them what you and your child have been going through, and form a parental coalition. A school may try to ignore one concerned parent, but there’s no school that can ignore an organized constituency of determined parents.
  • Keep taking it up the chain of command. If the principal doesn’t give you a response, go to the superintendent. If that doesn’t work, present your case in public at the next school board meeting. Every school district is required to hold a monthly school board meeting open to the public. Air your grievances there and bring your documentation!
  • And if that still doesn’t yield any action on the part of the school, contact the education writer at your local newspaper. You’d be surprised how quickly a school administration will respond when reporters are asking questions.

Above all, don’t give up. One of the reasons so many students continue to get bullied even after a parent has approached the school is that the parent doesn’t do the necessary follow-up. Get involved, and stay involved. Don’t assume after one or two meetings with a principal that the problem will resolve itself. You have to be as vigilant as you would with any important project. And remember, you’re never alone. I’m here. Reach out if you need me.

Meet the boy the bullies broke [ thestar.com, by Heather Mallick, 18/10/2011]

 COURTESY HUBLEY FAMILY / THE CANADIAN PRESS Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley poses with his son Jamie in this family photo released on Monday Oct. 17, 2011. Hubley says bullying was part of the reason his 15-year-old son took his own life.

COURTESY HUBLEY FAMILY / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley poses with his son Jamie in this family photo released on Monday Oct. 17, 2011. Hubley says bullying was part of the reason his 15-year-old son took his own life.

What a shockingly beautiful boy Jamie Hubley was. The ruddy hair, the smokin’ wide grin, that shy downward look — I’m wild and bold but, um, maybe not so much, the look seemed to say — as he sang Lady Gaga’s new song, “Born This Way,” on YouTube.

Jamie was only 15, which is why I’m journalistic ethics-wise allowed to refer to him by his first name, as if he were a friend of mine. And how I wish he had been. This kid could have helped my sadness, I could have helped his, he would have brought credit and affection and candour to everyone who knew him, but now he’s dead, no chance now.

When brightness falls, it falls so hard. Watch Jamie singing. He doesn’t get the low notes quite right. It makes your heart crack.

The Ottawa schoolboy died Saturday of human cruelty, profoundly depressed after years of being bullied for being gay. He killed himself. I’m astonished to read that he was being hounded even in Grade 7 — students tried to stuff batteries down his throat on the school bus after he chose figure skating over ice hockey — but then I remember Grade 7 and what little animals we were.

We were allowed to behave like rodents then, sharp-toothed and scurrying in packs, looking to munch on whatever was available, including each other.

The starter efforts at talking openly about teen suicide give the best advice extant, that time is a healer, that this too shall pass. Jamie wrote in his online suicide note: “It’s just too hard. I don’t want to wait three more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know it will get better? It’s not.”

You can’t tell a 15-year-old to wait three years. To him, it sounds like 30, which to a teenager is practically dead anyway. And when I look at middle-aged people, including many in public life, who can’t admit publicly that they’re gay, it’s clear that time heals nothing. We all fear bullying.

Foolishly, I thought this was generational and that kids were taught to be different now, more humane. As schools become multiracial, girls dare to speak up in class and be smart and everyone’s online and typing out the contents of their souls, I assumed that kids like Jamie, who wanted to sing or act rather than just go into thick-necked grunting mode for the course of their adolescence, would find a place to flourish.

I was wrong. The kids who called Jamie names in the hallway, who tore down his posters for a Rainbow club at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School (this was the school he moved to in an effort to escape bullies), the teenagers who mocked him online, we all went to school with those kids. Maybe we were those kids. Maybe we still are.

There a little dark creature inside all of us, a homunculus as it was known in the Middle Ages, or a tiny human. He is filled with meanness. I always imagine him looking like one of the black pond tadpoles I remember from childhood, little slippery lumps of menace. (In fact, of course, they were harmless and the neighbourhood boys should not have set them on fire.)

Well, there’s a little hate generator in every one of us and he’s the source of the bullying we see in politics, school, workplaces, hockey rinks, talk radio, yell TV, tabloid newspapers and especially online. We live in a bullying culture, in which I suggest you not be gay or a native Canadian or unemployed or in any non-powerful group. Don’t go online if you’re vulnerable.

But who spends the most time online, aside from the old Angry Pajamas of extremist politics? Teenagers, naturally.

If it helps to personalize it, picture your inner nasty as the icon you see on the doors of public toilets, but armed with a pitchfork. Instantly recognizably as Average Guy, he doesn’t just live inside the kids who helped drive Jamie to suicide, he lives inside all of us.

The trick of being civilized is that we silence him when he pokes our mean gland. And he’s not necessarily male. Females are talented bullies with a real eye for where the shiv will do the most emotional damage. No? Rent Mean Girls and see what I mean.

High school is the distillation of our lives, with a term limit, filled with cliques and home to the best and worst of our traits. Remember those hallways lined with lockers, which I recall happily but now realize must have seemed to the bullied kids like a gauntlet they had to run over and over, five days a week. What I wonder is if Jamie’s tormentors understand even now what they did and why.

As Jamie wrote in his last post on his Tumblr blog, “To the people who didn’t like me (many) a big f –k you. Go ride a unicorn.”

And then he adds, “But we love you anyway.”

Even as he headed for death, he had to add, in a clause from a naturally kind heart, some forgiveness for his tormentors.

I cannot get over this.

I’m hoping the schoolmates who mocked and tormented Jamie can’t get over it either. They’re not going to be better people until they confront their own cruelty.

We won’t stigmatize bullying until we force the bullies to understand what they do what they do, that an ugly voice emerges from the black dot inside you, urging you on to call kids like Jamie a “fag.”

Depression was Jamie’s constant, the kind of depression that is implacable in the face of total family love, medical care, counselling and loyal friends. Jamie’s father, Allan, wrote in his public statement that for most of his life, Jamie was “a happy and confident child.” Later, though, he asked “a question no child should have to ask — why do people say mean things to me?”

Hubley pointed out that cyber-bullying has created a new problem. There is no longer any refuge. “Children often feel there is no safe place to go; even when they are at home they can still be victims.”

Jamie knew his tormentors were reading his blog. “You bent me until I broke. Happy? You win,” he wrote just days before he killed himself. A student at his school wrote on the new R.I.P. Jamie website, “I had seen him earlier that day [the day of his death] and he had cuts all over his wrists, his arms, even his face.”

This matches Jamie’s single sentence entry, “Cut my face.” At this point he was in such despair that he no longer minded handing the confessional gift of his pain to those who were out to hurt him. A day later he quoted from another blog, a list of wounds that would not be the list of a depressed university student or a dentist or rape victim. It is quintessentially high school. It includes being “the first one to ask to hang out, the only one to try, not being invited.”

“F— high school and f— having shitty friends.” These words aren’t the whole truth of Jamie’s life but only the last miserable segment of it.

Look at his face as his handsome father proudly poses with his hand on the shoulder of his beloved child. Jamie, in a dress shirt with black bow tie, had clearly been in the spotlight. The photograph radiates love and happiness and is the portrait Allan Hubley chose to represent the bond he had with his 15-year-old darling.

What chills me is that Jamie’s bullies probably thought this picture was funny. I hope they’re not laughing now.

If they are, they haven’t learned to suppress their inner dark voice, the little hate lump urging them to deflect the hate that might come their way.

“You can’t break when you’re already broken.” That was the title of Jamie’s blog and the last words he saw. He was gay and bullies broke him.

Now we will have to reassemble our memories and our morals so that maybe no one like Jamie breaks again. But I suspect there will be other Jamies.

Cyberbullying is a new threat for children [ The Telegraph, by Angela Pertusini, 28/6/2011].

 Cyberbullying spreads through digital means such as text messages and social networking sites (picture posed by model) Photo: MBI / ALAMY

Cyberbullying spreads through digital means such as text messages and social networking sites (picture posed by model) Photo: MBI / ALAMY

It was halfway through her first year at secondary school that Georgia Woods started to be bullied. “I’d originally been really popular,” she says, recalling the events of three years ago, “but just after my 12th birthday, these girls started calling me stuck-up and a snob.” The name calling got worse, and gradually Georgia was ostracised by the rest of the class and eventually the whole school year group. But, as if that wasn’t bad enough, things were about to take an even more pernicious turn as the bullying went online.

“At first I didn’t know about it. My mum had let me join [the social networking site] Bebo as long as she held the password and updated my profile,” says Georgia. “She knew I had been having arguments with friends at school so she

clicked on one of the people on my wall and it went through to a page about how much everyone hated me. I felt really bad. I thought, ‘Why are they saying that?’ But finally I started to believe that what they said was true. The hardest bit was that I was so alone.”

Online petitions and endless vicious emails followed; Georgia became

withdrawn and stopped eating “because they kept calling me fat and ugly”. Things came to a head when she was away on a school trip and her parents decided to redecorate her bedroom. While moving the furniture around, they found a torn-out page from her diary in which she had detailed an attempt to hang herself.

Georgia had become another victim of cyberbullying, a way of humiliating, distressing and harassing a target using digital means. This can range from

bombarding them with threatening or insulting text messages and emails to more sophisticated means of intimidation: hacking into someone’s social network account and uploading false information on their profile (known as Facebook-raping or “fraping”) is common, as is setting up pages dedicated to a hate campaign against a particular person.

And Georgia certainly was not alone — the anti-bullying campaign group Beatbullying estimates that 30 per cent of 11-16 year-olds have been cyberbullied, and girls are more than twice as likely to be targeted than boys. Shockingly, since 2009, when the organisation set up a cyber-mentoring site to support and help those who had been cyberbullied, they have had a million young people contact them.

“Even children as young as nine or 10 have Facebook pages,” says Sherry Adhami, of Beatbullying. “We need to have early intervention and we need to understand that it isn’t just a schools issue. We need to educate the whole community about what happens.”

To those who have not experienced it, cyberbullying can sound less serious than other forms of bullying: it is not, for example, physical. Yet experts believe that it can be psychologically more insidious, as it is so persistent and leaves its targets without a safe haven.

“So many children are constantly connected to their peer group — they spend a lot of time on sites such as Facebook, they sleep with their mobiles under their pillow,” says Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet International, an organisation that aims to make the internet safer for children.

“A bully can reach their target 24/7 — victims cannot get away from it.”

Moreover, the target may not even know who is instigating the bullying. “The bully could be anonymous, which is very distressing,” says Gardner, “and the target may not know who else is in on the joke – who is laughing at it.”

The sheer reach of the internet also means that a bullying campaign can spread beyond a child’s immediate social group to people in other cities and other countries, adding to the feeling of isolation.

Childnet has produced a film — Let’s Fight it Together — that has been shown in schools to get across the effects that cyberbullying can have on its victims.

Surprisingly, Gardner says, cyberbullies aren’t always aware of the distress their actions can cause. “We do come across people saying, ‘It was just a joke, it didn’t mean anything,’ ” he says. “Technology is bringing us closer together but there is still a distance. I might send you something I think is very funny, but you don’t – and I can’t see your reaction.”

Surprisingly, this was the reaction of Georgia Woods’s tormentors. Never having come across cyberbullying before, Georgia’s parents were initially uncertain how to respond to events, other than to delete Georgia’s Bebo page. But her mother, Sarah-Jane, was galvanised into action when she found out about Georgia’s suicide attempt.

She contacted the school, who were very supportive, and arranged for Georgia to receive counselling through Beatbullying. Following an appearance on Newsround in which Georgia talked about being bullied, one of the girls involved approached her and said that she had no idea that what they were doing had upset her so much.

Remarkably, Georgia has become friends with five of the former bullies and she is now one of Beatbullying’s cyber-mentors, offering confidential support to other targets of bullying at school and online. “I think,” she says with astonishing magnanimity, “we needed to move forward. I don’t like to dwell on the negative.”

What to do

Targets should talk to someone — ideally a parent or teacher. Thanks to campaigns by Beatbullying and Childnet, among others, many schools are very well-informed about cyberbullying and will have policies in place to deal with it.

Keep the texts, emails and website addresses that are included in the bullying as, unlike other forms of bullying, they provide hard evidence of what has taken place and digital footprints that can link them to the perpetrators.

Report any abuse on a social networking site to the moderator – most sites have a “report” button to make this easy. Keep a log of any incidents.

Parents should discuss internet use with their children and gauge ways of working with them to keep them safe on the internet.

Childnet’s site www.digizen.org has resources for schools, parents and children to encourage good digital citizenship. Beatbullying’s cyber-mentor site is www.cybermentors.org.uk.

Crime study highlights teenage knife carrying [ BBCNewsUK, by Dominis Casciani, 19/5/2011]

Thirteen per cent of 13 to 15-year-olds know someone who has carried a knife for protection, a survey has suggested.

The research estimates that overall 1% of those in the age group carried a knife between 2009 and 2010 – lower than other estimates.

The figures for England and Wales suggest a fifth of 10 to 15-year-olds were bullied in the last year.

The statistics are an attempt to better understand the effects of crime on children and how safe they feel.

The report focuses on a wide range of questions relating to young people’s perceptions of crime and personal safety, rather than the number of them who have actually been victims.

The results are drawn from the 2009-2010 British Crime Survey, a rolling programme of interviews designed to record experiences of crime beyond incidents reported to the police. Some 3,700 children were interviewed.

According to the figures on knives, almost 70% of those aged between 13 and 15 said that carrying a knife meant they would be more likely to be stabbed themselves.

However, the older the children were, the less likely they were to strongly agree that such a risk existed.

Nasty texts

There have been previous attempts to work out how many young people carry a weapon.

A survey by the Youth Justice Board published in 2009 estimated that 23% of young people said they had carried a knife in the previous year.

Typically they admitted to carrying a pen knife – and a third said it was nothing to do with protection. A survey by BBC Radio 1 in 2009 found that 9% of respondents said they carried a knife for protection.

On bullying, boys aged between 10 and 12 were more likely to have experienced bullying than other groups.

Some 6% of children said they had been victims of cyber-bullying – such as nasty texts or postings on websites – in the last year. Girls were more likely to have been cyber-bullied than boys.

Eight out of 10 of those surveyed said they hung around with friends in public spaces – but just over a third said that there was a problem with teenagers hanging around in their neighbourhood.

Overall, the figures suggest that children are more likely than adults to think that there is a problem with teenagers hanging around.

The figures also reveal that children trust the police far more than adults.

According to the survey 87% agreed that “the police would help if you need them”. When asked a similar question, only 50% of adults agreed that police could be relied on to help.

The majority of young people also agreed that police were friendly and treated people fairly “whatever their skin colour or religion”.

These latest figures come almost a year after the Home Office’s first experimental statistics illustrated the problems with quantifying crime affecting children.

That earlier report suggested that up to a quarter of children could be victims of crime – but it stressed that defining a crime involving children was very difficult.

In one example, using the strictest legal definitions, squabbling siblings smashing each other’s toys could be classed as crime – but the children themselves would not consider themselves a victim.