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An issue of concern has always been that of bullying. Bullying has been around forever, and has been a problem area in American schools and amongst American youths for generations. In more recent years, tolerance for bullying has gone down quite a bit, which is good, considering the fact that this seemingly traditional aspect of childhood has been put up with and allowed for so long.
In recent news, more chilling and worrisome aspects of bullying that up until now had been unknown have been revealed. A recent Ohio State University study actually links bullying and substance abuse. From the study:
“Youth involved in bullying were more likely than students not involved in bullying to use substances, with bully-victims reporting the greatest levels of substance use, bullies themselves reporting the next greatest, and individuals not involved in bullying at all coming in last.”
Perhaps this hasn’t been as unknown or as revolutionary of a discovery as we thought though. In truth, to anyone who has been subject to or witnessed bullying or participated in bullying of one degree or another, this comes as no surprise at all, as a drug-induced fog and a constant state of psychological alteration would seem to be a welcome reprieve from the pain of daily torment. Furthermore, the study found that bullies are also likely to abuse drugs themselves. To make matters worth, then there’s also the simple fact that those who end up being the victims of bullying often end up bullying others too, and when substance abuse is involved in this, it just makes matters that much worse.
The Dwindling Spiral of Bullying and Substance Abuse
So bullying begets substance abuse, which begets bullying, which begets more substance abuse. It is a vicious cycle, and it is endless unless someone intervenes and does something about it. Here’s how it breaks down usually:
1. Joe abuses drugs or alcohol.
2. Joe becomes addicted to substances.
3. Joe, fueled by his addiction, bullies Bill.
4. Bill turns to substances to cope with being a victim.
5. Bill becomes addicted to his substances.
6. Bill starts to bully Tom.
7. Tom turns to substances to cope with being a victim.
8. Tom becomes addicted to his substances.
9. Tom starts to bully Ben.
10. And so the cycle continues.
Bullying victims themselves turn into bullies who create more bullying victims and thus more bullies. It spreads and spreads and spreads, and whenever substance abuse is entered in, it just makes matters that much worse too. It’s a vicious cycle of the very worst kind that there can be. So why do adults continue to turn a blind eye to this? Awareness is coming up about bullying, that is true, but it is happening much too slowly.
All too often the school bus is a staging area for the worst kind of bullying, shoving kids inside school lockers is still considered an appropriate pastime, and the strong, big kids still prey on the weak, small, chubby, odd, quiet, unpopular, gay, nerdy, smart kids. The list of targets and victims is endless. To make matters worse, for decades bullying used to be something that only happened with boys. Now it happens with girls too. Girls bully other girls almost as much as boys bully other boys.
School officials, parents, and even the kids themselves still shrug off abuses and bullying with a wide plethora of excuses and repeated phrases like:
• “kids will be kids”
• “they’re just playing”
• “words don’t hurt anyone”
• “it’s not a big deal”
• “it’s all a part of growing up”
• “that’s just childhood for you”
• “it’ll make them stronger in the long run”
The sad truth is though, when statistics point to a prevalence of substance abuse amongst individuals involved in bullying, the truth comes out that this actually indeed is an issue that needs to be addressed on a larger scale to say the least. It is something of which positive action definitely needs to be taken, and some intensive work needs to be done to address these issues before every individual who ever had anything to do with bullying becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol.
It’s not Just Drugs Either
Another major byproduct of bullying is excessive drinking being engaged upon by both bullies and victims. The prevalence and consistency of binge drinking and heavy drinking in the nation is also concerning too, as it has gone up on a similar scale than bullying has. For example, in 2014 about twenty-five percent of people of the age of 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. To exacerbate the issue, ten percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month, making for excessive alcohol consumption something that at least one out of every ten Americans does on a regular basis.
Adults are getting addicted to alcohol with increasing consistency too. Studies show that no less than seventeen million adults of the age of 18 and older had an Alcohol Use Disorder, (AUD) in 2014. This includes 10.6 million men and 5.7 million women. When these numbers are compared to earlier years, the difference in the growth in just one year is quite concerning, as is the increase in bullying.
What to Do About It
An attack on “the root causes of substance abuse,” would involve addressing many different things, one of them being bullying. Most preventative measures are all fine and good, but banning designer drugs, monitoring prescriptions, and controlling drug supplies can only go so far. Even more action needs to be taken to address these issues, and it needs to be taken on a grassroots level that really drives the point home for good. From recent studies it has been found that every generation of bullied kids and their bullies will try anything just to escape their own lives, (the bullies suffer a lot too), and that includes finding, buying, or even inventing the next big drug that becomes all the rave for a period of time. If addiction can be controlled (and it really can be controlled), then we can certainly also find a way to control bullying too. Plus, if we control one, we to a degree control the other, so it is beneficial in multiple different areas.
Drug and alcohol use is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in America killing around 570,000 people a year. These deaths come from overdoses, relapses, drunk driving, drugged driving, drug crime, violence, and other accidents and injuries and incidents of poisoning. Substance abuse by far is a major, leading cause of preventable death in the United States, ranking in only behind smoking and obesity. Certainly, we want this to stop, and stopping bullying will be a way to do so.
Most people arrested for criminal acts test positive for cocaine or some other drug of some kind. Although marijuana is the most popular illicit drug in the United States by far, no less than fifty-two of persons arrested in the general Chicago metro area tested positive for cocaine, not actually marijuana. Most of these individuals have fallen into a saddening drug addiction crisis, often from bullying and they commit crimes to feed their addiction or to provide money after their drug addiction has cost them their job and their livelihood.
The best way to address this is within the schools themselves and amongst the parents of children. A child is a blank slate for his or her parents to write on, and bullies are nine times out of ten a product of bad parenting. If the parents and the schools themselves are committed to preventing bullying, then the problem will indeed cease to be such a major one, and it eventually will go away for good.