National Anti-Bullying Month: Facts, Figures and Action Steps

Bullying certainly made headlines after Columbine in April 1999, but has now taken on greater urgency in light of a recent spate of children taking their own lives, literally bullied to death. Even President Obama has made it one of his priorities.

As he has advised, “We need to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, that it’s an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to make sure our schools are safe for everyone.” our children. And for all young people, they should know that if they are in trouble, there are caring adults who can help them.”

To that end, October was named National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, with November touted as Anti-Bullying Month, 15-19 Anti-Bullying Week, and the first called National Anti-Bullying Day.

All very noble, but lofty labels on their own, while attracting a certain amount of attention, don’t necessarily affect change. Instead, every day of the year, we all need to come together and stop attributing all this pettiness to only kids being kids.

Very recently in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, another child died by his own hand: 17-year-old Jesse Buchsbaum hanged himself in his home, and his parents believe bullying contributed to his death.

That’s why school districts across the country are so committed to reducing bullying, establishing a code of student conduct, providing parent outreach programs, and embracing programs like Olweus and Roots of Empathy. , or ROE, which shows even more promise in stopping what some call an epidemic of abuse.

However, at the center of school-wide efforts is creating a climate where students can trust their teachers, counselors, and administrators, knowing that their concerns will be taken seriously and addressed promptly.

Take, for example, Pottstown High School’s “Restorative Practices,” which are building a culture of support when kids face bullying. And, when initial efforts to stop the problem prove inadequate, as Director Stephen Rodriguez puts it, “the district gets tough.”

So should we all.

A recent Josephson Institute of Ethics survey of 43,321 teens, ages 15 to 18, from 78 public and 22 private schools found that 50% said they had been “bullied, teased, or teased in a way that seriously bothered me at least one time”. “

Meanwhile, in the last 12 months…

• 52% said they would hit someone in anger;

• 37% of boys and 19% of girls said it’s okay to hit or threaten someone who makes them angry.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, coupled with the fact that obese kids are bullied more than anyone else, a US Department of Justice survey found that:

• 25% of children are bullied.

• 14% of those who had been bullied experienced severe/bad reactions.

• 20% admitted to being a stalker or doing some type of harassment.

• 43% fear being harassed in the bathroom at school.

• 8% said they miss one day of school each month for fear of bullying.

Even more disturbing is that patterns of bullying behavior are established by age six.

All of this, of course, suggests that, along with sticks and stones, words do hurt, and that means it’s even more imperative for us parents to be proactive.

Start by asking your child’s doctor to talk about bullying during checkups. Also, since this is not the time to adhere to an unwritten code of silence, be sure to remind your child to trust a trusted adult, you or someone else, whenever he or she is bullied.

Always be on the alert, too, for behaviors that suggest bullying might be involved, such as if your child:

1) Being moody, withdrawn or stressed.

2) Complaints of stomachaches and/or nightmares.

3) Shows signs of physical abuse, including tattooed clothing and unexplained bruises.

4) Experiences to lower grade.

5) Expresses contempt for others and gets involved in a lot of gossip.

In a nutshell: listen well to your child, pay close attention and provide strong support, communicating openly and serving as a guide without unnecessarily interfering in his life. And of course, monitor your own behavior as well, as research tells us that the typical bully comes from a troubled family.

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