October is National Bullying Prevention Month. While there is a growing awareness of this serious issue, bullying remains as a prevalent problem in school’s across the United States. 28% of students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying, while 30% of young people admit to bullying others. This October, learn what you can do to be part of the solution to prevent bullying in your community.
What is Bullying?
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, bullying is any “unwanted aggressive behavior” involving an observed or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is typically repeated, or has a high likelihood of repetition. There are a variety of types, places, and contexts in which bullying can occur.
Someone can be bullied directly (e.g. being targeted in person in front of others) or indirectly (e.g. having rumors spread about them behind their back). Bullying is usually executed through physical, verbal, social/relational (e.g. reputation damage), or property damage. Electronic bullying, or cyberbullying, happens through the use of technology, through a mobile device or computer. Cyberbullying primarily consists of verbal aggressions such as threatening messages, and can occur via phone, email, direct messages, online posts, etc.).
Facts on Bullying
Approximately 1 and 4 and 1 and 3 students in the United States say they have been bullied. In 2016, The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that:
• 33% of students who reported being bullied at school said they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year
• Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 12% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose
• 23% of female students report being bullied at school compared to 19% male students
• 6% of male students report being physically bullied vs. 4% for female students
• 5% of male students report being threatened with harm vs. 3% for female students
Young people who are at risk and commonly targets for bullying are those that are seen as different, weak, anxious, less popular, etc. from their peers. You can learn more about the warning signs of someone who is or has been a victim of bullying here.
Effects of Bullying
There are serious effects due to bullying that can negatively affect the lives of youths. Kids who are bullied tend to experience physical, mental health, and social issues at school. Increased feelings of depression anxiety, sadness, loneliness are common. Behavioral patterns such as sleeping and eating can change, academic achievement may take a turn for the worst, and other types of health complaints can arise. Some of these negative effects may also carry into adulthood.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Bullying?
While there is still no concrete best practice to fully prevent bullying, especially in schools, witnesses have a very unique power to prevent bullying. 57% of situations stop when a peer steps in to prevent another student from being bullied. While this is a great statistic, bystanders only intervene less than 20% of the time if they see someone getting bullied.
In 2014, the “I Am a Witness” campaign launched to empower passive bystanders to take action and speak up against bullying. The campaign’s research shows that 68% of teens who are aware of the initiative feel confident that they know how to respond to bullying when they see it. The campaign’s symbol, an eye emoji shaped as a speech bubble, reminds bullies that they are being watched, while also reminding victims that there is support out there.
This October during National Bullying Prevention Month, there are many other campaigns going on across the country to raise awareness on the prevalence and impact of bullying, and to encourage young people to be part of the solution.
The Because of You campaign is a movement that is encouraging self reflection so teens understand how their own words and actions affect others. By being mindful and taking ownership of their own behaviors, students are empowered to be the change in their communities to end bullying.
STOMP Out Bullying has some call to actions that students can take at school during the entire month such as making friends with someone you don’t know at school. All the activities promote healthy communication, inclusivity, and kindness.
For more information on bullying and how you can help be part of the solution, visit any of the sites below.
Get Help Now:
Crisis Text Line
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
GLBT National Youth Talkline