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Bullying, while it once might have been considered normal youth behavior, has become recognized as seriously damaging. Studies have shown that bullies frequently go on to have criminal records as adults, and their behavior can adversely affect the mental health of the victim, as well as give the perception of an unsafe school. Emphasizing the importance of this issue, recent studies indicate that many perpetrators of school shootings reported being bullied prior to their attacks.

Though students have reported being bullied due to their physical appearance, religion, ethnic origin and actual or perceived sexual orientation, research indicates the majority of incidences of bullying occur due to the victim possessing some specific personality traits. Victims are often loners, typically with few friends and therefore easily isolated. Contrary to popular notions, research indicates that bullies frequently have very high self-esteem, while their victims tend to have lower self-esteem, be physically weaker than their tormentors and lack social self-defense skills. Some victims skip days of school or are driven to eventually drop out altogether to avoid their tormentors.

Although bullying is frequently thought of as a male activity consisting of such overt acts as physical intimidation or the more common verbal abuse or threats, a recently recognized form is relational aggression, a form of bullying more commonly practiced by girls than boys. This often takes the form of organized shunning, whispering, spreading negative rumors and mocking particular students. Though it doesn't leave physical scars, this form of bullying can leave its victims with lasting psychological damage.

Nearly every state has passed legislation defining and prohibiting bullying, often authorizing, encouraging and even requiring local school districts to identify methods to decrease and document bullying, and to find nonviolent methods of conflict resolution.

 

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