No one deserves to be bullied. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and the perfect time to pause and educate your family on specific ways to help stop bullying online and off. Thanks to the Stomp Out Bullying movement, this month is packed with a variety of awareness events and tools to help parents, schools, and young people put an end to this devastating social epidemic.
According to the group, one in six students say they’ve either been the victim of some form of bullying or, witnessed others being bullied. And one in eight students has experienced bigotry and name calling. But what kind of behavior is considered harmless teasing and what dips into the realm of bullying? Let’s take a look:
Different Types of Bullying
Physical Bullying: This is the most obvious form of intimidation and can consist of kicking, hitting, biting, pinching, hair pulling, and making threats. A bully may threaten to punch you if you don’t give up your money, your lunch, etc.
Verbal Bullying: Words hurt. Verbal bullying often accompanies physical behavior. This can include name calling, spreading rumors, and persistent teasing.
Emotional Intimidation: You don’t have to be insulted or hit to be bullied. Emotional intimidation is closely related to both physical and verbal bullying. A bully may deliberately exclude you from a group activity such as a party or school outing.
Racist Bullying: Making racial slurs, spray painting graffiti, mocking the victim’s cultural customs, and making offensive gestures, is all a part of the act of racial bullying.
Sexual Bullying: This type of bullying often gets minimized or overlooked but is a problem. Sexual bullying is unwanted physical contact or abusive comments.
Cyberbullying: Because of technology’s primary role in our culture, one of the most common kinds of bullying today is cyberbullying. This is when one or a group of kids or teens uses technology (emails, Web sites, social media, chat rooms, instant messaging and texting) to torment, threaten, harass, humiliate, embarrass or target another person or group of people.
Hazing: Hazing is a ritualistic test and a task involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a gang, club, military organization or another group. This can include physical (sometimes violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices.
Anti-Gay Bullying. Nine out of 10 LGBT students reported being harassed and bullied last year. Over one-third of LGBT students are physically assaulted at school because their sexual orientation and gender identity are different than those of heterosexual students. Over half of all students report hearing homophobic remarks often at school. More than 30% reported missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.
According to a 2014 McAfee study, cyberbullying is on the rise with 87% of youth having witnessed cyberbullying due to appearance (72%) race or religion (26%) and sexuality (22%). Pretty startling is this sad stat: 52% of teens have engaged in offline physical fights because of something that ignited online.
20 ways kids can help stomp out bullying:
According to Stomp Out Bullying, kids can have an enormous impact on the bullying crisis. Whether they know the person being bullied or not, kids can stop standing by and STAND UP! To safely support a victim:
- Don’t laugh
- Don’t encourage the bully in any way
- Stay at a safe distance and help the target get away
- Don’t become an “audience” for the bully
- Reach out in friendship to a bullying victim
- Help the victim in any way you can
- Support the victim in private
- If you notice someone being isolated from others, invite them to join you
- Include the victim in some of your activities
- Tell an adult if you see bullying or are bullied
- Encourage your school to participate in Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention
- Start a peer mentoring group at school
- Raise awareness of bullying and cyberbullying prevention in your community
- Teach friends about being tolerant
- Ask your school to set up a private ballot box where kids who are being bullied can report it anonymously
- Get someone to sponsor a conflict resolution team
- Encourage school administrators to adopt Internet-use policies that address online hate, harassment, and pornography.
- Create events in your school and community to raise anti-bullying awareness
- Create bullying and cyberbullying prevention posters
- Stand up and do something when you hear someone making jokes or comments about: Someone’s sexual identity, someone’s family member, someone’s weight, someone’s choice of dress, someone’s skin color, someone’s accent, or someone’s disability
For more creative ideas on how to be part of the anti-bullying solution, go to stompoutbullying.org. If you are an educator, parent, or student, you are in a powerful position to make a significant impact on this serious social crisis.
Signs your child may be a victim of bullying:
- Looks anxious or upset if he or she receives a new text or alert on their phone.
- Frequently gets headaches, nausea, or a stress-related illness. He or she increasingly asks to stay home from school or come home early from school.
- Trouble sleeping and an increase in nightmares.
- Becomes withdrawn, moody, angry or unwilling to discuss topics dealing with school, friends, or other peers.
- Deletes or deactivates favorite social networks like Instagram or Facebook.
- Suddenly loses his or her steady group of friends and refuses to talk about the details or place blame.
- Decline in grades or a loss of interest in favorite hobbies, sports, or school clubs and activities.
- Uses negative, hopeless, or suicidal references and may describe feelings as being lonely.
- May begin to act out feelings of helplessness and frustration by bullying siblings or younger children in family’s social circles.
- Tends to “lose” things like lunch money, electronics, or other expensive things bullies tend to take.
What to do if someone is bullying you:
Tell someone. Encourage your child to talk to a trusted adult. Many tweens and teens keep quiet when being bullied which often leads to more bullying and communicates to others that she is fair game for bullying. Encourage your child to come to you at the first sign of bullying or conflict online. Monitor his or her online circles and assess the tone of her online conversations.
Save all evidence. Print copies of messages and websites. Use the save feature on instant messages and take screen shots of posts or comments on social networks.
Report the abuse to the online platform, to school and/or police. Report the cyberbully to the social network in the Help section. If the perpetrator is another student, share evidence with the school counselor. Report the cyberbullying to the police or cyber crime unit in your area if the cyberbullying contains threats, intimidation or sexual exploitation.
The best defense against cyberbullying is a good offense, and that means doing whatever it takes to build and maintain open and honest communication with your child. While regularly conversing may not prevent cyberbullying, it does help you both effectively face challenges—together—as they arise.
Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family and @ToniBirdsong. (Disclosures).
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