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article imageOp-Ed: School suggests breast reduction for sexually harassed teenager

By Melanie Fourie     Jan 21, 2013 in World
Tammie Jackson, the mother of a 13-year old girl in St.Louis, Missouri is fuming after her daughter’s school suggested the teenager undergo a breast reduction when she lodged complaints of sexual harassment and bullying.
Apparently her daughter, Gabrielle, had been experiencing bullying and sexual harassment since the previous semester and this had prompted the distraught mother to contact the Riverview Gardens School District to lodge a complaint.
Said Jackson, “The lady on the switchboard told me that they could transfer my daughter to a different school, but that her boobs are so large that she’s going to always get teased. And then she told me that the only suggestion she could make is for my 13-year old daughter to get a breast reduction.”
The school is said to have bullying issues and is currently in the process of counseling as a way to help eradicate the problem. Tammie’s 9 -year old son, Elijah is also said to have been bullied due to a scar derived from a heart operation. She says that her son often talks about suicide as a result of the bullying.
In a society where bullying is burgeoning, teasing should not be taken lightly as it could cause both emotional and physical scars in the bullied individual. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 326,000 18-year old and under 18’s had undergone surgery as a result of being self conscious.
Said M.D. Frederick Lukash, a cosmetic surgeon based in New York, “It’s hard to find teens who are completely content with faces and physiques. Add the misery of peer teasing to the mix, and many a youth might jump at a perceived fast fix for their ‘flawed’ body parts." Dr Lukash adds that cosmetic surgery should never be seen as an easy way out and encourages procedures such as weight loss as a first solution prior to applying for cosmetic surgery.
Young people also needed to be emotionally mature enough for the medical procedure and parents are urged to assess their children’s reasons for wanting cosmetic surgery. It is also not really advisable for a youth to undergo drastic surgical measures just because they are emotionally charged to do so as a result of teasing peers.
Some of the physical side-effects of breast reduction or macromastia surgery are scarring, temporary nipple sensitivity and the inability to breast feed. On the other hand plastic surgery could be beneficial for those who suffer from excruciating pain and bad posture as a result of macromastia.
Women who are not keen on surgery could try alternative means as a solution. One of these alternative means is weight loss and a regular exercise regime comprising both cardiovascular and strength or resistance training to tighten supporting muscles. Reason being is that breast tissue comprises fat deposits, ducts and glands and when you lose weight your entire body is affected including your breasts as they are predominantly composed of fat.
It is however, vital for parents and guardians to educate teenagers about their bodies and to build up their child’s sense of self-worth during adolescence as they often seek approval at that age. If their confidence levels are constantly boosted in the home from an early age, bullying would not be able to shake their self-image that easily. Parents should teach their children to love themselves irrespective of what other people’s opinions are of them.
The teenage suicide and substance abuse rate are also intricately linked to bullying. According to statistics suicide is the third leading reason for teenage deaths with 14 percent of high school students forming part of the statistics. Also, according to a study conducted by Yale University, teenagers who were victims of peer teasing or bullying were two to nine times more likely to develop suicidal tendencies.
The growing issue of teenage bullying needs to be addressed via collaborative efforts from parents, teachers, students, communities and the private sector.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Sexual harassment, Teenagers, Teenage suicide, teenage bullying
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