NYC Health Department examines bullying consequences

Dr. Sapna Parikh has the exclusive story
December 18, 2013 2:08:54 PM PST
For the first time, the New York City Health Department is taking a hard look at the consequences of bullying. What happens to kids who are bullied once the bullying stops?

"I used to walk around be in the cafeteria people throw stuff at me say bad words," senior Rowan Morgan said.

Morgan and 2 of her classmates have been bullied and they're brave enough to talk about it.

"I had trouble in the locker room. I used to get pushed around and all that and I couldn't say anything back because the language barrier was too high. I wasn't taken seriously," Mir Mahmood, another senior, said.

In New York City, 1 in 5 high school students say they've been the victim of bullying. That's according to a new report given exclusively to eyewitness news. It's the first to look at the consequences.

"So they're not only a vulnerable group in terms of being bullied, but they're vulnerable from a long term health perspective," Dr. Roger Platt, director of School Health for New York City, said.

The new study shows bullied teens are more likely to drink, smoke and abuse drugs, including prescription pain medication. Nearly half (46%) report symptoms of depression and 15% said they've attempted suicide.

"We don't know if it hurts them or not, but it's hurting them inside mentally," senior Lahiru Egodage said.

They also found that bullied teens are 3 times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe, and twice as likely to bring a weapon to school, but none of that was surprising to the teens I spoke to.

"After they get bullied, they might be insecure. They don't feel safe and to feel safe they might have a weapon - a knife as security," senior Yangzen lama said.

"Imagine that student that comes to school every day and gets bullied and also faces struggles outside at home - wherever. It's really hard for that person to focus," junior Rowan Morgan said.

Students from the Brooklyn International School are trained by the Anti-Defamation League to teach their peers about bullying.

The Department of Education recently launched an online resource center for bullying called Respect For All. The students say we need mandatory workshops for parents on cyber-bullying and more peer education.

"The only way to end this problem - bullying - in all the schools is we have people students and peers who teach classes and others how dangerous bullying is," Morgan said.

Advice for school officials from students that have seen it all.


Read a PDF of the bullying report

Respect For All