A new study finds that time doesn't always heal the wounds caused by bullying. Researchers have found that young victims are more likely to have anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts as adults than children who aren't bullied. But it turns out that the bullies are also at risk of the same emotional problems when they grow up. The findings don't come as a surprise at one Sioux Falls school that's taking steps to stop bullying.
Memorial Middle School students want to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless case of kids being kids.
"Sometimes it happens here. It happens every day, everywhere," Memorial Middle School 6th grader Cade Stratman said.
And new research backs them up. Both victims and bullies can have higher rates of emotional problems as adults.
"Sometimes, parents have gone through it themselves and they talk to me about how their kids are going through it. They don't want to see that happen to them," Memorial Middle School Counselor Annie Walker said.
Memorial students talk about bullying at least a couple of times a month in their classrooms. They say bringing the topic out in the open helps keep bullying in-check.
"I think that's helping a lot because then the word is getting around and then you know, 'Okay, this is wrong. I shouldn't be doing this,'" Memorial Middle School 6th grader Tyra Medicine Horn said.
"One thing we could do is we could talk to those kids one-on-one and they would probably get the feeling that they need to stop," Stratman said.
Signs to do the right thing are a daily reminder to students to stop bullying whenever they see it. The teachers themselves carry around this checklist of how to intervene on behalf of a student who's being bullied.
School-wide awareness is important to the teachers and students because the effects of bullying can last a lifetime.
"These kids are at a fragile age anyway and we hate to see them go into high school with any lower self-esteem than they have to. So I can definitely see how that carries with them through high school and adulthood and into middle age," Walker said.
Walker says one aspect of prevention they emphasize at Memorial Middle School is knowing when teasing among friends crosses the line into harmful bullying.
The new study also finds that bullies who are victims of other bullies are the most at-risk for emotional problems as adults.