The time to take action is now! Everyone has a voice in raising the awareness of bullying. Whether you are a student, educator, or parent, here are important points to know:
• More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied.
• Bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied find it difficult to concentrate, show a decline in grades, and lose self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.
• Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students.
• In some cases, bullying has led to devastating consequences, such as school shootings and suicide.
• Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless, and afraid that they will be the next target.
• Bullying is a communitywide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture.
• The two keys to creating change are:
o Increasing awareness that bullying has lifelong impact.
o Giving people the tools they need to respond effectively.
• Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. Student education of how to address bullying for peers is critical, as is the support of adults.
• Silence is no longer an acceptable response to bullying. Adults, students, and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying. Ignoring it won’t work. Everyone needs to be empowered with options to respond.
What DOES Work in Bullying Prevention: It DOES work to develop consensus among the whole community so they take action to discourage and interrupt low-level mean behavior before it becomes serious. Fire prevention and fire fighting are helpful analogies. We need firefighting teams to put out moderate-to-large fires. Yet we also need every individual to take action to reduce fire hazards. Similarly, we need parents, other adults, school administrators, teachers and counselors to intervene in more serious peer mistreatment. We also need people to be trained and ready to intervene by stopping the indirect use of biased speech or the small incidents of exclusion that can escalate into more serious behaviors. In addition, we can learn from firefighting that everyone in a community has an ethical responsibility to report fires. Similarly we need to see reporting peer mistreatment as a responsibility for all children rather than as “tattling.”
Information provided by: What Works in Bullying Prevention in Schools by Stan Davis and Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center at www.pacer.org /bullying. Take time during the month of October to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of bullying and what you can do to make a change.
If you are interested in more information on Bullying/Bullying Prevention please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or firstname.lastname@example.org or check for information online at www.vbsafecoalition.com or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.