| By Beth Manar |
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to raise awareness about and help prevent bullying. Bullying is generally defined as intentional, aggressive behavior that results in emotional distress or physical harm to the target, generally on multiple occasions. It can occur in person or online and takes many different forms, including verbal abuse, social ostracism, and physical abuse.
According to stopbullying.gov, an estimated 28% of all students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying, and 30% admitted that they had bullied someone else. Bullying can have detrimental effects on those who experience it, including academic problems, social isolation, depression, anxiety, and can even lead to suicide. Even if a child is not the direct target of bullying, bullying can have negative impacts on those who witness it. Because more than 70% of students report that they have witnessed bullying, it is not merely a problem on an individual level but is a societal issue.
Most bullying happens at or near schools, so bullying prevention strategies generally involve entire communities, including parents, teachers, school staff, and other trusted adults. Most bullying prevention groups encourage talking openly with children about bullying and modeling positive behaviors such as kindness and empathy to create a culture of respect. Children are encouraged to report bullying to adults and, if they feel safe doing so, stand up for themselves or other children who are being bullied. If children who witness bullying do not feel safe standing up to the bullies themselves, they can be supportive of bullied students in other ways, such as eating lunch with them or including them in other activities.
Through a conscious effort on the part of a community, the culture can shift from one that condones or tolerates bullying into one that accepts and respects all of its members.
For more information on bullying, including identifying bullying behaviors, statistics, and ways to combat bullying in your community, please see the Bullying and Cyberbullying portals in Opposing Viewpoints In Context.
Not an Opposing Viewpoints In Context subscriber? Learn more about this innovative resource today!