October is National Bully Prevention Month with its sole purpose to connect individuals and organizations to share resources to raise awareness for the prevention of bullying.
What exactly is bullying?
Bullying can be defined by the following three components:
- Repeated: A bully bothers the same victim over and over again.
- Intentional: A bully hurts someone on purpose, not accidentally.
- Power Imbalance: The bully has more power (through characteristics such as size, popularity, age, etc.) than his/her victim.
The combination of these three factors creates a situation that moves beyond conflict to become persistent persecution.
What is the connection between bias and bullying?
There’s a strong correlation between bias and bullying. The targets of bullies are often from a group marginalized because of a certain characteristic (such as race, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, gender expression/identity or size) about which others hold prejudiced assumptions.
What’s the most effective tool against bullying?
In short: Prevention. By creating an inclusive learning environment that supports all students, educators can maintain a space that is inhospitable to those who would bully. Everyone—including administrators, teachers, cafeteria staff, bus drivers, assistants, substitute teachers, parents/guardians and students—has a role to play in creating an anti-bullying climate in schools, and the culture against bullying must exist from the cafeteria to the classroom.
How do I know if my child is being bullied at school?
Just because you don’t see obvious bullying in your child’s classroom doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at their school. Bullying often happens when—and where—adults aren’t present.
The only way to be sure your school is the inclusive environment you want it to be for your child is to closely examine their school climate on a regular basis. Insert yourself in parent groups and don’t be afraid to ask questions to the administrators and staff, like:
- What discipline actions are taken in a bullying situation?
- Who can my child turn to if they are being bullied at school?
- What programs are being taught to encourage anti-bullying?
- What training do the educators have that help them to identify bullying?
Also remember that not all bullying looks the same. Harder-to-detect actions, such as spreading rumors or isolating a student from friends, can also constitute bullying. Your child may hesitate to even call the harassment they’re enduring “bullying.” Other phrases, such as “there was drama” or “she was messing with me,” may clue you in on the situation.
Here are some warning signs you child may be bullied, if he or she:
- leaves school with torn, damaged or missing clothing, books or other belongings;
- has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches;
- has few, if any, friends with whom to spend time;
- seems afraid to be in school, leave school, ride the school bus, or take part in organized activities with peers;
- has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to perform poorly;
- appears sad, moody, teary or depressed;
- complains frequently of headaches, stomach aches, or other physical ailments; or
- avoids the cafeteria and/or doesn’t eat.
What do I do if I know bullying is occurring?
Take action and work towards a safe and healthy outcome for all those involved. For school-related incidents, it is essential that you understand your school’s anti-bullying policies. Being familiar with these expectations allows you to respond appropriately and immediately.
It is also important to remember that anti-bullying measures should address bullying behavior. Never label a child a bully. Bullying is an action, not an identity. When bullying is addressed constructively, it is possible to both support the bullied child and transform the behavior of the child who has been bullying others.
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