Bullying has received a lot of attention in the media lately. Everything from food allergies to being gay can cause bullying at all academic levels. While it is certainly true that instances of bullying can be found almost everywhere, it often begins in middle school. Students begin picking on one another about any perceived difference, and eventually an incident will escalate into bullying. It is up to school educators, psychologists, administrators, and therapists to take a stand against bullying in the school. By teaching children how much damage their words and actions can cause, it may be possible to reduce the amount of bullying students must endure during school and hopefully reduce, and eventually eliminate, the tragic consequences bullying so often cause.
The American Psychological Association describes bullying as:
“…a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.”
The old school of thought was that bullying was when a child was physically harmed. Most recently, however, bullying has begun to be much more subtle and high tech. Students will text or instant message threats, spread gossip on social networks, or use cell phones to record embarrassing incidents and then broadcast them over the Internet. Whether your school is suffering from high tech cyber bullying or old fashioned physical bullies, the behaviors need to be addressed and stopped.
- Bullying.org – This Web site offers webinars, presentations, and courses for educators to help them understand bullying and teach them how to prevent it in their schools. This organization is also a supporter of Bullying Awareness Week, which takes place from November 14-20, 2010. Visit the Web site to find out more about the theme and how to implement awareness in your school.
- OLWEUS – Has information about specific state laws, conferences, training resources, and webinars to help educators. There are resources designed specifically for administrators, parents, and teachers and staff to help everyone who touches the life of a child learn how to help.
- Talk About It – This group discusses the importance of simply talking about bullying. Often children keep quiet about bullying and are afraid to speak up even if they are not the ones being targeted. Learn how simply starting a dialogue can reduce bullying.
- Stop Bullying Now – This is a site maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Web sites offers solutions for both children and adults, and provides games and webisodes to keep children engaged.
With so many anti-bullying programs available, there should be a way for every school to introduce the subject into their curriculum. It is important for children to celebrate their individual differences rather than to ridicule those that are different. Begin looking at the material that is available and discuss the options with your school administrator. If the cost is prohibitive look more closely at the free resources that are available and use the bullying awareness week to really bring attention to the subject.
How have you addressed bullying in your school in the past? What is your plan of action for this year?