October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Chances are you’ve seen or experienced bullying at one time or another. Whether you were the bully, were bullied, or were a bystander.
With the birth of the internet and smartphones, bullying has spread to the cyber-sphere. National Bullying Prevention month is a dedicated time to work on the prevention of bullying in school and online!
It might sound like a silly question, but the definition and environment for which bullying happens has grown over the years.
According to Stopbullying.gov, bullying is:
“ ... Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”
Bullying is done in person, over text message, and social media. As the definition points out, it isn’t just the bullied child who will feel the lasting consequences of the bullying.
Studies show bullying is nothing to joke about. Bully-victims are at increased risk for adverse health, wealth, and social functioning into adulthood. This is not only impacting the person, but society as a whole. Another study showed the similar damage in-person and cyberbullying does on the victim. No matter the mode of bullying, the victim is left with emotional damage brought into adult years.
Similarly, the bully will feel effects into the future as well. Experts point to maladjustment and desire to reach a social status as reasons bullies will bully others. While they’re not the ones being bullied, there’s evidence of psychological damage impacting the perpetrator. More studies need to be done, but it can be concluded that students who were both the victims and perpetrators have the most severe outcomes. One study examined direct and relational bullying experience with common health problems and found that students ages 6-9 who bullied others and were bullied had more physical health symptoms than children who were only perpetrators or were not involved in bullying.
To break it down, below is an overview of proven long term effects of bullying:
Long term effects for the victim
Increased risk of suicidal thoughts
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Poor general health
Difficulty establishing trusting, reciprocal friendships and relationships
Long term effects for the bully
Continuing bullying behavior into adulthood
Risk of spousal or child abuse
Risk of antisocial behavior
Less likely to be educated or employed
For the sake of all involved, bullying needs to end! So how can you be a part of the solution to bullying?
There are ways to ensure you’re standing up against bullying and staying safe at the same time.
Talk with children
It is important to teach children/students what bullying is and what to do if they see or experience it. Have an open line of communication, and be a trusted ally for a victim to turn to if needed.
Providing teachers, parents and other adults with the tools to recognize bullying and help the students is crucial. Here are training opportunities for teachers.
The way bullying is understood, treated and handled varies by state and school. Research your local and state laws and find what can be improved.
Along with having an open dialogue about bullying and training staff, establishing programs and accountability in schools is crucial.
More ways to prevent bullying include: Get involved in community change and building a safe environment.
Whether you are experiencing bullying now or have in the past, it can impact you and society today. This month and always, it’s important to be aware and take a stand against bullying. Stay informed and advocate for change.
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