October is National Bullying Prevention Month! We all need to be aware that bullying and its effects continue to impact children. But there are things we can do to stop bullying in its tracks.
According to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, almost one of every four students will be bullied this year. However, 64% of students who were bullied did not report the incident. We need to encourage youth to speak to an adult they trust – this is actually the most important thing they can do. A caring adult really needs to be involved so they can help stop the bullying.
For parents, teachers and other adults who work with youth it is important to know the difference between bullying and normal child/teen behaviors. Bullying is intentional, repeated and often with an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. Many people assume bullies have no friends and lack self-esteem. Very often this is not the case but it is important to note that 60% of kids who bully in middle school are convicted of a crime by age 24.
There are different forms of bullying- physical, verbal, social and cyberbullying. Physical and verbal bullying are often easier to spot. Physical bullying happens more among males than females. Verbal and social bullying seem to happen more among girls. One example of social bullying is excluding someone from the group or telling friends to exclude someone.
Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to send mean, threatening, or embarrassing messages to or about another person. It might be in a text, e-mail, or a Facebook post. Cyberbullying can be anonymous and it can spread quickly. If someone is bullying you at school, when you leave for the day it’s over. But cyberbullying can continue well past the school day.
On the good side, over half of bullying incidents stop when a peer intervenes! When we teach kids strategies for dealing with bullies it can make a difference. Parents need to pay attention to their child to see if they are involved in bullying situations. Whether your child is the bully, victim or the bystander, there are tips that parents can do to help their child.
First, when a situation arises make sure you have as many facts as possible before you jump to conclusions. Have family discussions that let your children know bullying is not a way to solve problems and won’t be tolerated. Help your child develop assertive communication skills and talk with teachers and school personnel if needed.
The Pacer Center has a wealth of information for teachers, parents and youth on their website at www.pacer.org/bullying/. Their resources include special sections just for younger children and for teens. You can also check out www.stopbullying.gov for additional resources.
Cortland Prevention Resources, a division of Family Counseling Services, has many different programs for families and can serve as a local resource on bullying prevention. Call us at 607-756-8970.