By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com October 21 2013 2:58 PM ET
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that it will observe October as Bullying Prevention Awareness Month by disseminating information on statistics and resources to shine a spotlight on this issue.
HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement this week, reminding the public that nearly 30% of students ages 12-18 have reported being a victim of bullying. Her statement also linked to an infographic that outlines percentages related to different forms of bullying, including rumors, social ostracism, shoving, property destruction, name-calling, and cyberbullying.
Sebelius also stressed the emotional consequences of bullying. Children who have experienced verbal or physical abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer academically or drop out of school, commit crimes, experience depression, and inflict violence upon others and themselves.
The problem of antigay bullying is widespread even in the early years of elementary school, according to an extensive national 2011 survey released by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. The problem can ultimately manifest in one of the worst possible ways — suicide.
The Trevor Project reports that gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Nearly 25% of transgender people have tried to take their own lives. Reports of young people killing themselves haven't stopped despite successful public awareness campaigns like Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project or constant support from the Trevor Project's confidential 24-hour lifeline, which can be reached at (866) 488-7386.
Sebellius encourages concerned readers to visit StopBullying.gov to find other resources and means through which individuals can help stop bullying, including a Tumblr page that highlights the work of activists across the country.