October is National Bully Prevention Awareness month. Schools and organizations across the country have joined the Stomp Out Bullying campaign. The goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness and impact on children of all ages.
Bullying is a cruel intentional act that is often repeated. It is prevalent in schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, and even workplaces. If children are not taught to deal effectively with such behavior the bullying becomes worse. Adult bullies often become very proficient at threats and intimidation to get what they want. Such behavior may be verbal, emotional, sexual, physical or cyber-bullying. Being a victim is traumatizing for adults, but even worse for children.
The best time to talk to your child about bullying is before they have been exposed to it. This helps them to mentally prepare and have a plan of action. This alone will help build their confidence and self-esteem.
HELPGUIDE.ORG provided the following classifications.
- Hitting, kicking, pushing, threatening
- Stealing, hiding, destruction of other’s property
- Hazing, harassment, humiliation
- Making someone do something against their will
- Teasing, taunting
- Cursing someone
Very young children can’t distinguish between bullying and unkind behavior. Children need to know that unkind behavior is also inappropriate—e.g. “Your hair is really messy.” “Your mom is fat.” “I don’t like you.” and “You stink.”
Some Successful Strategies:
- Ignore the bully, if possible
- Walk away and pretend to feel brave and confident.
- Protect yourself. Safety is the top priority!
- Don’t bully back.
- Don’t show your feelings.
- Tell an adult. Report every threat or assaults. (Teach the difference between tattling and reporting.)
- Be proud of who you are!
Bullying typically involves at least three individuals—the bully, bystander, and victim.
As students get older, bystanders should be taught to mobilize together, speak up, support the victim, and be a positive influence.
Dr. Phil McGraw supports teaching Bully BUSTER Skills for Bystanders.
B-Befriend the Victim
U-Use the Distraction (to focus other’s attention elsewhere)
S-Speak Out and Stand Up!
T-Tell or Text for Help
E-Exit Alone or With Friends
R-Give a Reason or Remedy
Victims of bullying often become bullies as they grow older. Therefore, it is crucial for a nationwide effort to Stomp Out Bullying! Bystanders can truly make a difference in reducing peer cruelty and halting the cycle.
As parents and community members, we need to continue the awareness and discussion of bullying and its emotional impact on others!
Diane Reed, MA, LPCC