Bullying has become a world-wide epidemic. It seems that every day, you can find an article online related to bullying. Kids as young as 7 are taking their own lives because they feel there is no hope for the end. Just last month, a 15-year-old boy committed suicide because he was relentlessly picked on in high school. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), about 48% of youth in 6th-12th grades experience bullying. Of those that are victims, only 36% report the bullying to an adult.
So how can you identify and intervene in bullying? Know the facts. Bullying is persistent, happening on more than one occasion. It is one-sided, with the bully having more power over the victim, either real or perceived. Bullying is not a rite of passage! It is not “kids being kids”. Bullying can affect schooling, and can cause severe psychological trauma, not only for the victim, but for the bully, and the bystanders as well.
Bullying can cause victims to lose focus in school, resulting in declining grades, truancy, and fear. The Center for Child Stress and Violence Prevention (2013) reports that 160,000 students skip school every day due to bullying. What is worse is that kids now experience bullying 24/7, thanks to the internet and technology. Fake Facebook profiles, websites, and text messages can be utilized in cyberbullying, which can harm children in their own homes. In addition, bullies are more likely to develop anger issues later in life. Bullying can result in the inability to develop appropriate social skills, which can then affect careers and education further down the road. Bullies can also develop guilt and shame issues from their actions. Bystanders, the kids who witness bullying, can develop fear and helplessness from their inability to intervene.
In order to combat bullying, it takes involvement from families, schools, and community leaders. Involving faith organizations, law enforcement officials, and school officials allows for the community to address issues of intolerance, violence, and disrespect. This also helps kids to feel safe. ICAN has several ways to combat bullying, not only within our organization, but also within the community. Our Prevention Specialists are trained in several evidence-based programs that teach tolerance, inclusion, and respect. The entire staff has received training on bullying, and how to identify and intervene. However, we need help from the rest of the community to help eradicate it in Chandler.
If you think your child is involved in bullying, talk to them. Ask questions, look for strange behaviors, and be involved. Kids who are victims or bullies will both exhibit behaviors that are not typical to them personally. The biggest thing is to just listen. Once you get them talking, just listen. Do not judge, do not belittle, and do not push for retaliation. Listen, brainstorm positive ideas, and contact those within the community to help. It is up to everyone to ensure that our kids are safe.
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Center for Child Stress and Violence Prevention. (2013). Statistics on mental health, bullying, ADHD, violence, suicide, additional mental health issues. Retrieved from http://childstress.org/stats
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Youth risk behavior surveillance system. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm