Bullying Awareness & Prevention

Bullying Prevention Tips And Help

For many, the beginning of the school year brings happiness and excitement. In order for these positive feelings to continue throughout the year, education and awareness are necessary to protect and prevent our youth from bullying.

Children and teens need to feel safe in their school environment. It has been found that one in four teens in middle and high school report being bullied and an estimated 160,000 children stay out of school on any given day because they are afraid of being targeted by bullying. It is important to note that bullying can begin as early as preschool. Awareness and prevention are important pieces in creating and establishing a safe school experience. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness month and the goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyber-bullying by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on children of all ages.

4 Types Of Bullying

Bullying consists of 4 basic types of abuse: emotional, verbal, physical and cyber (electronic technology). These types involve subtle or  obvious methods of coercion such as intimidation. Also, bullying typically includes 3 people: the target (victim), the bully (aggressor) and the witness (bystander).

Today, research shows that bullying has significant short and long term effects that impact education, health (physical and mental), and safety. These include school avoidance,   decrease in grades, increase in dropout rates, inability to concentrate, somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches), sleeping problems, low self-esteem, increased fear or anxiety, depression, self isolation, increased aggression, self-harm and suicidal ideations, and retaliation.

Kids of all ages need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help. Research shows that adults are only notified in about a third of bullying cases. Kids do not tell adults for many reasons including; feeling helpless, fear of being judged or punished for being weak, or fear of backlash from the kid who is bulling them. Parents, caregivers and educators can help by:

  • Encouraging kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens.
  • Talking about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like saying “STOP NOW” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions do not work, like walking away.
  • Discussing and encouraging strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
  • Urging them to help and support kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.

Lastly, talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting our children and teens. Our youth also learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the youth in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.

For more information and ways to help prevent bullying and spread awareness go to preventingbullying.promoteprevent.org

by Kristin Bronson, MA, LPC