Bullying happens everywhere. It happens all the time and we will most likely deal with it forever. Lately bullying has been in the national spotlight and today, schools are taking a more active role in managing bullies.
“Bullying happens everyday.” reports Becky Flores, an Intervention Teacher at Costello School in Lyons, IL. “Most times we see it in the hallway or at recess, it can happen in the bathroom. It upsets me immensely when I see it because all children should to come to school and feel safe. A bully can change the whole climate of the classroom If kids feel scared they dont want to come to school.”
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) at least 1 out of every 4 kids are the target of bullying. Bystanders who stand around and watch are the role most people take. Allies are friends of the target. Senior Director of Education Ilana Sherman from Health World Education says the goal is to turn bystanders into allies. Ilana also says bullying goes beyond taking someone’s lunch money. Today there are different forms like verbal, social and the newest form causing widespread harm:
“There’s electronic bullying now,” says Sherman. “That takes place over computers and phones and messages and gets sent out very quickly and physical bullying.”
Psychologist Dr. Joe Novak from Northwest Community Hospital says bullies thrive off power and that all bullies have one thing in common. Someone or something is making them feel insecure; they bully to make themselves feel better.
“Many bullies seem to struggle with shame even though they have strong self esteem.” Dr. Novak says. “They struggle with shame meaning that there’s an aspect about themselves that they don’t particularly like and they don’t particularly want other people to know about.”
If extreme bullying goes on for a long time and is not identified early it can lead to violence and risky behavior. Being the target of bullying can be scary. Dr. Novak says targets can feel depressed, hurt and alone and even make some kids not want to go to school or play outside.
“If you are the one being bullied its overwhelming,” he says. “The emotional and physical pain that is caused by the bullying is like etching on a piece of glass. It doesn’t go away. You remember and it can be very difficult for you to break away from that.”
There are tips to remember if you are the target of a bully. First, try ignoring the bully. Don’t cry or get angry because that is the bully’s goal. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. The most important thing to remember is to find a trusted adult if you feel unsafe. Teachers and parents should be aware and observant of the students. Set up structure and rules and find ways to support positive behavior.
“The more parents that get involved,” says Sherman, “the greater the voice that they can raise to say they we don’t like this we don’t want this in our school community.”
“Even if you do bully,” Flores adds, “you can change yourself and we’re here to help you try to change.”
If you are the target of a bully, remember you are not the one with the problem. The bully is the one with the problem. The most important thing is to talk to an adult.
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Follow this link for more information on bullying.