National Bullying Prevention Month – Standing up to Bullies
October 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of National Bullying Prevention Month. The campaign, started in 2006 by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, works to unite communities and to raise awareness of bullying prevention. PACER asserts that one in four students will be bullied this school year alone.
While media coverage of bullying tends to focus on the most extreme cases, StopBullying.gov’s statistics show that bullying is taking place daily in the nation’s schools—with nearly 71% of students saying that they’ve seen bullying happen first-hand.
Defining the Problem
Just two years ago, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education created a federal definition for bullying. The definition includes unwanted aggressive behavior, observed power imbalance, and repetition of behaviors. The report adds that bullying threatens youths’ well-being in both school and neighborhood settings. Bullying can also happen online, which means that parents need to be watchful of their children’s social media accounts.
According to StopBullying.gov, the numbers of children who report being bullied is a staggering 28% in grades 6-12. The number decreases slightly to 20% when only 9-12th graders are included. However, 30% of students admit that they’ve bullied others, and 70.4% of school staff say that they’ve seen bullying happening in their schools. 41% of those staff members say that they witness bullying once a week or more.
So what can parents do to help their children? Communication is key.
Building Relationships to Build Confidence
Dr. Faye Taylor, associate professor of Counseling in the College of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Sciences at Argosy University, Nashville advocates communication with teachers to help students understand the expectations at school. In an interview with Michigan Mom Living addressing reducing back to school stress levels, Dr. Taylor states that open lines of communication help children to understand school rules and regulations—and why they’re necessary to ensure a safe, efficient, and orderly environment.
Dr. Taylor also advocates that parents get into the classroom to see first-hand how their child is handling school and social situations. “Be as active in school activities as you possibly can. But don’t hover.”
Confident friends and empowering a child to stand up to bullying can have a dramatic impact on bullying situations. StopBullying.gov states that when bystanders intervene in a bullying situation, the incident stops within 10 seconds nearly 57% of the time.
Tips from StopBullying.gov
StopBullying.gov’s top tip on preventing bullying is to treat everyone with respect.
· Stop and think before you say or do something that could hurt someone.
· If you feel like being mean to someone, find something else to do. Play a game, watch TV, or talk to a friend.
· Talk to an adult you trust. They can help you find ways to be nicer to others.
· Keep in mind that everyone is different. Not better or worse. Just different.
· If you think you have bullied someone in the past, apologize. Everyone feels better.
For those being bullied, the experts at StopBullying.gov recommend:· Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
· If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.
· Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
· Stay away from places where bullying happens.
· Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.
Bullying is a problem that many children face throughout their elementary, middle, and high school years. Through communication with teachers, school staff, and the kids themselves, the problem of bullying can be properly addressed—and children can be empowered with the tools they need to stand up to bullying. Not just during the month of October, but year-round.