A 13-year-old girl’s hair set on fire in a horrifying bullying incident

Navaeh Robinson, 13, from West Philadelphia suffered first-degree burns on her head after getting burned by a boy. The eighth-grader studies at Samuel Gompers Elementary School and was waiting at a bus stop when another student came up behind her and attacked her using a lighter.

The attack was completely random. The girl has returned to class this week and recovering from the attack and the injuries. The front of her head has no hair now because of the burns. The girl reported that the boy came up from behind and picked up a lighter from the floor and said “Hey Navaeh” and set her hair on fire. He and some other students present there started laughing.

She came back to school and friends met her with hugs and tears. She had a police escort as she walked back home. The mother wants the boy who burned her daughter’s hair arrested and charged. She stated that setting humans beings on fire is no joke. It is not fun or a game. It could have had fatal consequences.

Can you imagine if your child had to go through this? What leads children take such horrifying and hateful attitudes towards their peers? Bullying has horrible consequences for kids. And in some cases, it is worse than abuse from adults.  When it comes to psychological impacts of harassment and hate speech, peers might actually worse than parents.

According to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, children who suffer from peer bullying were at risk of major mental health problems in the adult age. And these problems were a lot severe than those children, whose caregivers or their parents abused or mistreated them. The study was carried out by the psychology professor Dieter Wolke from The University of Warwick. He defined maltreatment as emotional, physical or sexual abuse by a parent/caregiver.

Two groups of children were followed and studied in the research. One in the United States and the other in the United Kingdom. Wolke and his research team followed both groups all through childhood and into their adulthood. The data acquired regarding and bullying in youth was linked to mental health problems as they reached adulthood.

Bullying is an act of repeated aggression which includes physical attacks, verbal threats and taunts, hate speech, harassment, and social exclusion. Bullying affects all youth. The victim, the bully and those who stand to watch. Sometimes, the impacts last into adulthood.

Bullying is a common, yet, horrible reality:

One out of three U.S. children report that they were bullied in school. One in seven reports online bullying.

According to Wolke’s study, 30% of children in the U.K group and 16% of children in the U.S. group reported of bullying. Moreover, an additional 7% of children in the U.K and 10% in the U.S. reported of suffering at the hands of both maltreatment and bullying.

Bullying is a widespread problem. And if you look closely, you will see different forms of it from middle school to high school and even college as well. As far as the profile of the bully is concerned, there is not a single profile of a person involved in harassing or bullying acts. Young people who bully others are either socially well-connected or are those who themselves have suffered bullying. Those who both bully others and get bullied, happen to be at a larger risk of problems in behavioral and mental health and suffer in academics as well.

Bullying is quite common across various cultures and socioeconomic groups. But, anti-bullying advocates and psychologists are making a lot of effort to tackle this problem and discourage parents/adults from having an unworried approach towards kids can be cruel. It is important to realize that bullying has long-term consequences. It is not and should not be a part of growing up. Sometimes, bullying goes unreported and has consequences much gruesome from mental health problems.

How can parents prevent bullying?

Individual school systems and public policy efforts are working to both address and prevent bullying. Nine of the U.S states have laws and policies written into the education codes for the prevention of bullying. These policies define the unacceptable behaviors and protect the groups who are often bullied (youth with disabilities, LGBT youth, youth belonging to different race) while outlining the discipline processes.

The solutions to bullying are not simple. Approaches to preventing bullying show view the problem from many angles and then take the effective measures. They involve everyone from the entire school community be it students, teachers, administrators, families as well as the cafeteria and front office staff to lay the foundation of a culture of respect. Expulsion and zero tolerance do not necessarily work always.

Bystanders who intervene on behalf of the person getting bullied can make a huge difference. According to studies, adults can play an important role in preventing bullying. Parents can begin with keeping the communication lines open and talking to their children about the importance of being kind and compassionate, urging them to do what they love, and encouraging them to get help if they see someone get bullied or get bullied themselves.

Parents can also take help from technology. Technology can play a vital role in controlling bullying. The U.S Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a free mobile app KnowBullying that features warning signs, tips to start a conversation and the strategies to empower both parents and caregivers to discuss bullying with their children. Along with that parents can use Xnspy child monitoring app to know the kind of conversations their children are having, the messages/emails they receive, and the content they access on the internet. Staying informed and knowing what your child is up to lets you take timely action.

Although a lot of work is being done to curb bullying, Wolke has expressed his concerns. He stated that these measures cannot protect the children from the mental health consequences which his team diagnoses in bullied children on a routine basis. Usually, these resources are directed at maltreatment by adults. But, getting bullied by peers has a long-term psychological damage.

He wishes to see some widespread government efforts to protect children against bullying. And further stated that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, requires protection of children from neglect and abuse but, there is no such thing as peer violence mentioned in there. This requires attention and needs to be addressed by the government.

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