IT STOPS NOW: RECOGNIZING NATIONAL BULLYING PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH

black and white photo zoomed in on someone's feet as they sit on the floor curled up holding their knees in their hands

If you’re an adult, you may have grown up thinking it was just a normal part of childhood and/or adolescence. Bullying, however, should never be normalized ­– and if you fear a young person is in danger of thinking so, this is an ideal time to talk to them before it’s too late.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of bullying as well as educating the public about the subject. Bullying can take on several forms. This includes physical, verbal or emotional abuse as well as cyberbullying in the form of online harassment, impersonation, and other digital abuse.

Help someone today with these tips to detect, talk about and act to prevent/stop bullying.

RECOGNIZE SIGNS THAT SOMETHING MAY BE WRONG

According to the CDC, students who are bullied are more likely to experience low self-esteem, feel isolated, perform poorly at school and/or make excuses to avoid going to or have a negative view of going to school. Physical signs of damage like torn clothes, unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches, may also be present.

In addition, they may experience physical symptoms like trouble sleeping or, in extreme circumstances, experience suicidal thoughts. (For information on to help someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting suicidal tendencies, see our previous post here.) Be aware that children with disabilities may be at a high risk of bullying and have difficulty telling someone if they have.

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

If you suspect a child is suffering the ill effects of bullying, it is important to not only talk with the child and their school but to do so in a way that is productive as to not make the child feel insecure and avoid self-victimization. This can be done by asking open-ended questions that begin with their environment before moving to more specific questions about activities and behavior. Examples of these include:

Questions for Your Child

  • How was your day at school? Did you have a good bus ride to and from school?
  • Have you seen anyone be mean to someone on the bus or at school?
  • Are you ever scared or worried about getting on the bus or going to school?
  • You seem to be feeling sick a lot on school days? Is there anything you would like to tell me about why?
  • Do people at school say things to you that are mean or to try and hurt your feelings?
  • Has anyone at school been mean to you? Was it done more than once? Did they know you were being hurt?

Questions for Your Child’s School

  • In your opinion, how well does my child get along with their classmates?
  • Have you noticed any students in the class that seem to exhibit any aggressive verbal or physical tendencies towards others?
  • Have any other faculty members noticed my child having difficulty interacting with other students?
  • How do you ensure the safety of children inside of the classroom and in the hallways?
  • Have you noticed any bullying taking place in your classroom?

If you are unsatisfied with the responses you receive, you may want to make an appointment with a senior administrator or principal. Feel free to offer examples of behaviors your child has mentioned so teachers and administrators understand the nature of your concerns.

AVOID INSTINCTS THAT PRODUCE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES

As a parent or guardian, it is natural to want to tell your child to either take things into their own hands or possibly tell them to ignore/avoid the other students. Both suggestions can lead to a score of negative consequences for everyone involved. Realize that each child’s situation is unique, which is why generic advice like “talk it out,” “ignore them” or simply saying “tell an adult” may not be enough to resolve the problem.

Teens may feel disappointed they can’t handle the problem on their own, worried about disappointing their parents or even have a secret they are scared to reveal that may be the reason behind the bullying. It’s also important to be positive and supportive as opposed to victim blaming (“you deserve it,” “stand up for yourself,” etc.) and help them overcome the fears that prevent them from seeking help.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

If you suspect your child may be the victim of bullying, you can help empower them now before it’s too late. Meeting with their local guidance counselor, a trusted coach or another official can be a good step to resolving the issue. Additionally, there are several sites such as Pacer.org, StompOutBullying,org and StopBullying.gov that offer a multitude of helpful resources online.

For more information, review the list of resources available locally at https://boonecountyalliance.com/education/resources/ today.

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About Boone County Alliance

Since 2010, BCA has devoted its energy to develop and implement individual and community strategies to combat the local substance abuse dilemma. In order to achieve its mission of a united community where all youth are drug free, BCA engages in activities related to prevention, advocacy, and collaboration. BCA focuses on prevention of underage drinking, marijuana use, and prescription drug misuse/abuse.