Bullying is any act intended or that should be reasonably intended to hurt or harm another person that is usually repeated or occurs more than once. Everyone (students, employees, and volunteers) who witnesses bullying or harassment in public schools or even outside of schools when it causes a major disruption in school has a duty to report it to the principal or other appropriate persons. Unfortunately, society seems to reserve the term bullying for behavior associated with youth. However, bullying can be found in relationships of all ages and in all social groups. Adults can be victims of bullying and harassment in many settings: online, at home, at school and at work. We can identify some forms of bullying as domestic violence, child abuse, sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
People react differently in an undesirable situation when they perceive that nothing can be changed. However, there will be a reaction. For victims of bullying, we do not know if the reaction will be internal, external, or a combination of both. According to a 2017 report by the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, in South Carolina, suicide was the leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 14 and the second leading cause of death for children ages 15 to 17. The Committee on Children also reported that the number of high school students that attempted suicide in South Carolina was significantly higher than the national percentage. Bullying is not the cause of all suicides, but it can cause or increase mental health disorders. Also, it is common for bullying or harassment to be mentioned as a trigger for extreme responses such as behavioral issues in school or even school shootings.
Perhaps, if we want to prevent bullying, we should remember, bullying is not something that only happens to children in public schools. It is a form of abuse similar to domestic violence, child abuse, sexual harassment, racial discrimination and others. We observe bullying in many forms and cultures, and we become desensitized to it. It is difficult to prevent or stop, but we should not stop trying. If you need free legal assistance to combat aggression or bullying in any form, apply at South Carolina Legal Services by calling 1-888-346-5592 or online at www.sclegal.org. Our eligibility for free legal help depends on your income and your legal problem.