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Ponnada: Fire with fire

BY SRI PONNADA | DECEMBER 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Let’s take a plunge down memory alley to the days that many children seem to dread.

When I used to come home and complain to my mom that the kids at school were being mean to me, she’d say that it was kids just being kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

Kids are still being kids I guess. In a recent Iowa Youth Survey of students in grades six, eight, and 11, 50 percent of the participants reported to have been bullied at school in some way.

Cyber-bullying has become so popular, and face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication is slowly becoming extinct.

The rest of us can’t keep writing off bullying behavior as something silly that students should expect as a part of their school life. Kids who are bullied can be negatively affected in so many different ways.

They may develop mental issues and perform poorly in academics, and  they are even more likely than kids who aren’t bullied to drop out of school. Sometimes, the bullying is so bad that it could even push a child to think about or go as far as to commit suicide.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that suicide is the third-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24.

Furthermore, approximately 157,000 in that age group receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at emergency departments across America every year.

Although it is heartbreaking to hear of the many kids we lose each year to the horrible phenomenon, it is reassuring to know that Iowans are trying to rise against it.

Gov. Terry Branstad has announced a new bullying and suicide prevention resource, Your Life Iowa Program, at the Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit last week. This hotline and website will assist Iowans 24/7. What’s even better is that people can also text for help if they’d like. Persons may feel more comfortable reaching out for help online or via text than over the phone.

In an age in which use of cell phones and computers is raging among the youth of our nation, it’s wonderful to see these devices being put to good use.

I’m down with the idea of cyber-saving the victims of cyber-bullies.

I guess sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire.


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