According to the New York Post, a new development has surfaced regarding the Florida school killer Nikolas Cruz. They claim that at age five, Cruz watched his father die of a heart attack, and his younger brother admitted to bullying him during his later years. The report also mentions that Cruz was also seen holding a dead bird by his crotch during reading class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Senior student Tyra Hemans spoke to the Sun-Sentinel and explained to them that she was sitting across from Cruz last year during first-period reading class. She said that she noticed that Cruz was holding a dead bird near his genitals. She says that the experience was very disturbing, but looked away because it was none of her business.
Hemans says that she never told a teacher what she witnessed, but she did tell her best friend Meadow Pollack, who was one of the unfortunate victims of this horrific shooting, according to the New York Post. Hemans told reporters that she and Pollack tried to become friends with Cruz. They would lend him their cell phones during class so he could use it for assignments.
On a separate note, the Sun-Sentinel reports that the FBI received a tip that Cruz took that dead bird home and opened it up in his kitchen because he wanted to see what was inside. Shortly after the massacre on February 14th, Cruz’s brother Zachary went on record with the Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies to say that he and his friends bullied his brother. Zachary now wishes that he had been nicer to his brother, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
It’s unknown if watching his father die or experiencing bullying at the hands of his brother had an effect on Cruz’s decision to take an AR-15-style rifle into a high school. But we can still take a look at the psychological effects that bullying can cause an individual. A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry takes a look at the long-term psychological effects of bullying. Researchers took data from over 1,400 kids in North Carolina that at ages 9, 11 and 13 and continued to follow up with them through adulthood. Researchers found that children who were victims of bullying (never bullied others) had a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety and panic disorders.
The study also showed that 25% of the participants who were bullied said that they experienced suicidal thoughts as young adults. In addition, 35% of the participants said that they experienced panic disorders as young adults.
The lead author of the study, William E. Copeland, who is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, said that his team was very surprised by how profoundly bullying affected a person’s long-term functioning. He also added that psychological damage caused by bullying doesn’t just disappear when a person becomes an adult. Copeland concluded by explaining that if doctors can address the psychological problems that come with bullying, they can help prevent major problems from occurring in the future.
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