For many of us growing up, being teased in school was considered by the adults in our lives a “rite of passage” that would ultimately make us “tougher” and more prepared for life. Children were expected to deal with bullying on their own, to either stand up for themselves or to ignore those who taunted them. However, in recent years, studies on the effects of bullying show that victims, perpetrators, and even bystanders involved in acts of bullying experienced negative effects, ranging from low self-esteem to substance abuse to depression.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which was founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. The now month-long campaign began as a one-week initiative to bring awareness to bullying prevention and to provide schools, students, teachers, and parents with resources on how to better respond to bullying behavior.
Identifying Bullying Behavior
Anyone can bully, just as anyone can be a victim of bullying. Male or female, students with good grades or those who struggle, popular or unpopular. Focus on identifying bullying behaviors rather than profiling students. Note that bullying is a behavior and not a label. Labeling students as “bullies” can be detrimental to getting them to change their behaviors.
Bullying is not about conflict resolution. People bully others as a means of gaining control and power. Bullying occurs between unevenly matched opponents, with the perpetrator having some power over the victim.
Encourage Bystanders to Intervene
Studies show that peer intervention on behalf of bullying victims stops over half of bullying situations. Student bystanders should be encouraged to intervene (only when safe to do so), as other students often know of bullying situations before teachers do. Bystanders who intervene should be protected and rewarded.
Effects of Bullying
Loss of self-esteem
Poor school adjustment
• Perform poorly in school
• Have few friends
• Have negative view of school
• Miss or skip school
Headaches / stomach aches
How Adults Can Help Victims of Bullying
• Listen to victims
• Check in to see if bullying has stopped
• Give advice to victims
• Ignore what’s happening
• Tell victims to stop tattling
• Tell victims to solve their own problems
Written by: Anna Limoges