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  • Jami Smithson

National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month


October is World Bullying Prevention Month during which students, schools, and communities all over the world come together in solidarity to bring awareness to bullying/cyberbullying. According to the U.S Department of Education bullying is finally being recognized as a school safety issue and with good reason, bullying often leads to psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, violent behavior, addiction, and suicidal tendencies among our youth. One out of every five students in the U.S. reports being bullied; out of those who reported, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 13% were the subject of rumors; 5% were physically assaulted; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose (National Center for Educational Statistics 2019). 43% of the bullying occurred in the hall or stairway at school, 42% inside the classroom, 27% in the cafeteria, 22% outside on school grounds, 15% online or by text, 12% in the bathroom or locker room, and 8% on the bus as reported by the bullied students (National Center for Educational Statistics 2019).


So, what can we as parents, school faculty, and students do? There is a lot we can do… First, become educated on the issue and by reading this blog you’re taking that first step! Let’s talk about some key terms:


1. Bystander: a bystander to bullying is anyone who witnesses bullying either in person or in a digital sense; 80% of the time when bullying occurs there is a bystander close by. Bystanders are so important to the situation, when a bystander intervenes in a bullying situation the bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time. (August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov)


2. Outsider: a type of bystander that witnesses a bullying situation but chooses to stay out of it and not get involve. (August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov)


3. Defender: a type of bystander that intervenes by offering support to the person being bullied (either privately or in the moment) and/or by taking other actions to address the bullying. (August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov).


There are many reasons why students may not intervene and come to the aid of another student being bullied; it is up to the adults in the lives of the youth to understand these reasons so that we can recommend safe ways that they can prevent, intervene, or address bullying. Some reasons bystanders do not intervene include but are not limited to fear of retaliation and in turn being bullied themselves (WestJEM, 2014, Thornberg et al., 2012, Forsberg et al., 2018), fear of losing social status (Forsberg et al., 2018), lack knowledge about the individuals involved, the incident, and whether or not they understand who is right or wrong in the situation (Forsberg et al., 2018), they do not believe teachers or school staff will address the bullying (Forsberg et al., 2018), they believe adults will make the situation worse, and they simply do not know what to do to address the bullying (Forsberg et al., 2018).


Second, take action and be the change you want to see; now that we know how bullying is affecting our kiddos let’s talk about how to change it. As parents and school faculty we can teach our youth to prevent or stand up to bullying all the time, not just when they are friends with the person affected. Studies show that bystanders do intervene when they are morally engaged and treat others with respect or believe bullying is wrong, consider how serious or dangerous the behavior is and how frequently it occurs, view the target of the bullying as innocent, have empathy and sympathy for the target of the bullying, and believe teachers or school staff will appropriately address the bullying (Forsberg et al., 2018). Parents and school faculty play an important role in helping students understand their roles in bullying situations. When the topic of bullying is address consistently, students have an expectation that the role they play in bullying matters and is important. Education about moral obligations begin at home and continue on into the school setting; activities at school can be planned to enhance emotional learning and first understanding that bullying is wrong and also to provide safe strategies for supporting their peers. Adults can also combat bullying by modeling the type of behavior expected from our youth, rewarding positive social behaviors, and setting the tone for social relationships. Bystanders can take action to address and reduce bullying by taking certain steps either before bullying takes place, during a bullying incident, or after it happens by doing the following:


Prevention

1. Be inclusive; welcome and invite others to joint activities and groups; be friends with many and avoid cliques.

2. Be a role model for pro-social behavior by showing kindness, respect, and empathy for others (August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov).


During

1. Defend the target of the bullying

2. Intervene as a group

3. Change the subject.

4. Question the bullying behavior (August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov).


After

1. Reach out privately to the target of the bullying to express support or concern.

2. Report the bullying to a trusted adult, parent, teacher, or school administrator. (August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov).


Third, tell others…… raise awareness and get involved!

I think we all can agree that kindness matters more now than ever, lets teach our kiddos gratitude, empathy, consideration, and encourage them to choose kindness, be a witness to those who need it, stand up for others, and help put an end to bullying.


For more information on Bullying Awareness & Prevention visit


https://www.learnpsychology.org/now/bullying/ to better understand physical bullying and violence, emotional and psychological bullying, and cyberbullying, the effects of bullying, bullying coping and strategies, and common behaviors associated with a person doing the bullying as well as the person being bullied.


If you or someone you know (child/adult) is the victim of bullying or exhibiting behaviors associated with being a bully, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help:


https://www.stopbullying.gov/


https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/get-help-now


1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/

1-888-628-9454 (For Spanish Speakers)

1-800-799-4889 (For deaf/hard of hearing)


Therapeutic Counseling & Consulting: 804-322-9955

email: info@therapeuticcounseling.org


References

August2018 August fact sheet - akastage-www.stopbullying.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://akastage-www.stopbullying.gov/sites/default/files/2018-08/Bystander-Factsheet.pdf.


Deborah Lessne and Melissa Cidade of Synergy Enterprises. (2015, April 30). Student reports of bullying and cyber-bullying: Results from the 2013 School Crime Supplement to the national crime victimization survey. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2015056.


Forsberg.C., Wood, L., Smith, J., Vorjos, K., Meyers, J., Jungert, T., and Thornberg, R. (2018) Students’ Views of factors affecting their bystander behaviors in response to school bullying: a cross‐collaborative conceptual qualitative analysis, Research Papers in Education, 33:1, 127‐142, DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2016.1271001 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/02671522.2016.1271001


National Center for Educational Statistics (2019). Student reports of bullying: Results from the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Victimization Survey. US Department of Education Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2015056 .


Thornberg, R., Tenenbaum, L., Varjos, K., Meyers, J., Jungert, T., & Vanegas, G. (2012). Bystander Motivation in Bullying Incidents: to Intervene or Not to Intervene? Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 13(3), 247-252. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415829/


WestJEM. (2014, September 29). Bystander motivation in bullying incidents: To intervene or not to intervene? The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://westjem.com/original-research/bystander-motivation-in-bullying-incidents-to-intervene-or-not-to-intervene.html http://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2012.3.11792

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