National Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign, founded by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. This year, the campaign celebrates 12 years of “standing together against bullying – united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.” Traditionally held the first week in October, the event was expanded in 2010 to include activities, education and awareness building for the entire month. National Bullying Prevention Month is recognized in communities across the United States with hundreds of schools and organizations signing on as partners.
Often thought of as a “childhood rite of passage,” recent studies have shown that bullying can leave devastating and often long-term effects such as loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression. PACER collaborated with education-based organizations to provide schools, parents and students with the tools they need to support and better respond to bullying in our schools.
The campaign is held during the month of October and was designed to unite communities nationwide through education and raising awareness of bully prevention. It is also a time to for each of us to contemplate the role that we play with regard to combatting bullying, harassment and cruelty both online and off.
Be part of the solution, not the problem
Bullying affects one in every five kids. However, is not limited to the playground. Online, the percentage of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying has nearly doubled over the past decade.
One thing we can all do to combat bullying is take a stand against it. Sometimes bullying has a way of unintentionally happening such as excluding someone from social circles because they are different or not popular, or joining in or failing to interrupt negative behavior when we see others acting inappropriately. Bullying stops when we point it out and stop the cycle. Be an “upstander.” Be the person who intervenes in a positive way upon observing an incident or the aftermath of one.
Most bullying is witnessed
In most cases, there are witnesses to bullying behavior. In more than 85 percent of bullying episodes, other youth were present. However, statistics have also shown that only a small percentage of that group (10-25 percent) reach out to help the victim. Negative behaviors by bystanders such as joining in or laughing have big impacts and really makes things feel worse for victims.
What is bullying? It can be on the playground or it can be online. It can be from a stranger or a friend. There is no age group or demographic that is immune to bullying. It is unwanted. It is aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and one-sided, associated with people who use their power – such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information or popularity – to control or harm others. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Key weekly themes throughout the month:
The Week of Oct 8
- Make friends with someone you don’t know at school
The week of Oct. 15
- STAND UP for Others Week
The week of Oct. 22
- Week of Inclusion
The week of Oct. 29
- Start the week with conversations amongst your peers
Bullying happens online. Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology, such as cell phones, computers, tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors or embarrassing information or photos posted on social media sites.
Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from this negative behavior because it can happen at any time, in any location. To combat cyberbullying, harassing messages, texts, posts and photos should be erased as soon as possible.
Bullying and harassment do not just happen with children. Adults can also be victims and perpetrators of bullying and harassment. Research has found that 40 percent of adult internet users said they had been harassed online, and nearly three-quarters said they had seen someone being harassed. Young adults have it worse: Nearly two-thirds of internet users age 18 to 29 have been the target of at least one type of harassment.
Bullying also happens at the workplace. Roughly 27 percent of employees have experienced abusive behavior at work while seven percent are currently being bullied.
Sadly, there are also cases where adults bully youth. It happens among parents, teachers, law enforcement and even clergy.
We should all think about how our behavior affects others, not tolerate the abuse of others and of course we should all live by the Golden Rule of treating others as we want to be treated.
More information on bullying can be found at the following address: https://www.stopbullying.gov/index.html