Introduction – National Stop Bullying Day
Do you know what national stop bullying day is? It’s a national day of awareness and advocacy about the dangers of bullying. This year, it falls on October 13th.
Bullying can be defined as “aggressive behavior that causes physical or emotional harm to another person who may not be able to defend themselves.” There are many different types of peer pressure: teasing, making fun of someone, pressuring someone into doing something they don’t want to do, and threatening violence against them if they don’t listen.
Bullying has been shown to increase depression in its victims and increase the chance for suicide ideation in the victim by up to four times! Luckily there are ways we can fight against peer pressure.
What is Bullying?
The word bully means “one who is habitually cruel, annoying, or intimidating to others who are weaker.” Bullying can take place in person (face-to-face / direct bullying) or through the use of technology (cyberbullying). Cyberbullying involves using information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group intended to harm others. This ranges from gossiping about someone to spreading rumors on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
- One of the best ways to stop bullying is to be friendly yourself!
- If you are nice and kind, it will help decrease your chances of being bullied by others.
- It can also be helpful to work out at a gym or join other activities such as sports and clubs.
By increasing our physical activity, we increase our strength and improve how we feel about ourselves, which decreases feelings of sadness and loneliness that bullies prey on when trying to bully someone else. Peer support groups have been shown to reduce depression in those who attend them because they give victims an opportunity, just like this blog does.
Why National Stop Bullying Day Matters
It is estimated that one-third of school-age children are bullied each year.
- Bullying has been recorded in every region of the world, but bullying can be more or less violent or social due to different cultural beliefs.
- The effects of bullying include anxiety, depression, anger management issues, and it is even associated with suicide ideation.
The United States Congress created national Stop Bullying Day (aka Anti-Bullying Day) in 2006 to call attention to the problem of bullying in schools. This day is observed annually on October 20th.
The Challenges of Preventing Bullying
Electronic bullying -emails, texts messages, phone calls, etc.- makes it a lot easier for a perpetrator to harass a victim because this method does not require them to be together in the exact location. Electronic devices have made it possible for bullying to happen anytime and anywhere.
Bullying is brutal for schools because it occurs outside of school hours, making many schools feel powerless to do anything about it.
- It has even caused some schools to close their doors on students or dismiss them early to reduce the number of victims.
- Community members also often ignore bullying until it is extreme, where there may be injuries or damage done by weapons (Nansel et al., 2001).
However, verbal bullying can be just as severe as physical bullying. Therefore, warning signs of bullying should not be ignored either way! These include depression/suicide attempts, eating disorders, anxiety disorder symptoms, social impairment at school/avoidance of school activities, etc. If you see these warning signs in your child or a child you know, you can take steps to help stop bullying before it gets out of control.
How to Prevent/Stop Bullying
Several resources are available for parents and teachers who suspect they have a bully situation on their hands. The most effective solution is always prevention.
This includes being aware of the warning signs that your child may be bullying or being bullied themselves, knowing where your children are at all times when outside of school with technology, communicating with them about what they do online (versus just monitoring what they look at), taking away devices if necessary, and speaking to schools about cyberbullying policies/programs in case it does escalate to that level. Making sure there are ZERO-TOLERANCE policies in place is also essential in schools. If policies are in place, they must be enforced when they are broken.
If you do suspect your child is being bullied at school, make an appointment to meet with the principal or guidance counselor of the school they attend before speaking with them about it directly. Make sure to take note of any behaviors that may have changed since last talking with school personnel (behavior changes are one of the most common warning signs).
Communication between parents and teachers can solve many problems before they get out of hand. Once bullying has been established, if your child would feel more comfortable reporting it to a teacher or another adult, YOU MUST ALLOW THEM TO DO SO! It does not matter how open your child is if they tell you they are being bullied because if they do not feel safe reporting it, they cannot get help.
You can also try to pursue mediation between your child and the other party involved in the situation. If that is not successful or does not work for whatever reason, it would be appropriate to involve law enforcement officials. Bullying is against the law in all 50 states, so please seek out any legal advice needed immediately because there are many things parents/teachers should know about bullying which may protect them from legal action if appropriately handled (Nansel et al., 2001).
You can also meet with teachers and school personnel before contacting authorities and talk with those who have been directly affected by the bullying first. This may help you gather information about how much bullying is occurring, where it happens, and the results’ effects. The more evidence you have, the better your chances of stopping a bully from continuing their behavior or holding a school accountable for not stopping an incident when they should have.
The last step would be to take legal action against those who were involved in the situation. Please know that lawsuits take time and that this option may not be available to everyone as it does require a lot of time and attention to detail. In addition, parents often feel guilty about pulling away from their children if they do decide to seek legal action because there’s a chance they may lose contact with them after doing so.
On the other hand, turning a blind eye to what’s happening can lead to more severe consequences for your child (such as self-harm, suicide attempts, or even death) and may make it difficult for you to communicate with them. The ultimate goal is to get help for everyone involved in the situation, including the bully/bullies themselves if they are victims of bullying.
It is important to remember that bullying, in any form, will not be tolerated. We need to work together-kids and adults alike-to make sure our schools are safe for all students. National stop bullying day is a step in the right direction; it’s time we start working towards making this holiday an annual occurrence where kids can feel supported at school without fear of being bullied or discriminated against.
Contact us today if you want help creating your own national stop bullying day celebration at your child’s school! Our team would love to partner with you on this project so every student feels included and validated by their peers at school.