October is National Bullying Awareness Month, and we wanted to share some insight on bullying and how to prevent it.
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is unwanted reoccurring aggressive behavior and involves a perceived or real power imbalance. It typically occurs amongst school-aged children and has a lasting effect on those who have bullied, witness bullying and are bullied.
The three main types of bullying are: verbal, physical and social. It includes actions like spreading rumors, physical or verbal attacks or intentionally excluding an individual from a group.
With technology on the rise, cyberbullying has emerged with it. Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place on digital devices like phones, tablets or computers. It can also occur on social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat), text messages and emails.
How to Prevent Bullying
It is important to understand that the role of a caring adult is to be aware of the signs and prevent bullying. It is equally important to educate kids and students on bullying as well.
Here are some key ways to prevent bullying whether you are a parent, school staff or caregiver.
- Help YouthUnderstand Bullying
When children and adolescents are properly informed on what bullying is and what it looks like, it is easier for them to identify it when they experience or witness it. They are then able to better express if they believe someone is being bullied, or if they are being bullied themselves.
Share tips on what they should do if they witnessed bullying, such as: sharing the experience with a trusted adult, learn when it is appropriate to stand up to a bully and when to walk away and comforting and supporting those who are bullied. Encourage and reassure them that they will not be in trouble for reaching out or telling an adult.
Research shows that children look up to and trust their caregivers and parents for advice in tough situations. Build a relationship and open communication with your children by asking them about their day and feelings and reassure them that they can talk about any troubles with you. Children and adolescents may hesitate to share their experience regarding bullying due to fears like getting in trouble or having the bully retaliate.
Having a conversation specifically about bullying is also a great way to gauge your child/ student’s knowledge on the subject. Express that diversity should be celebrated and discuss what it means to be inclusive and respectful of others.
- Extracurricular Activities
Ask your child what they enjoy doing and allow them to be a part of various extracurricular activities if possible. Many schools offer various programs and clubs such as sports, band/ music, dance, choir, and more. This allows them to be surrounded with peers who are like-minded and can help them build friendships and confidence.
- Model Behavior
Children learn and mimic behavior from adults they frequently see. As a parent, caregiver, or school staff, it is important to model behavior. Treating others with respect and kindness and not tolerating bullying is a great way to share that bullying is never okay. Children often learn how to manage conflicts and coping with stress by watching adults.
- Create A Safe Environment
Whether you are a parent, school staff or caregiver, creating a safe environment is extremely important. As a teacher or school employee, there are many ways to create a safe environment such as managing your classroom and separating students who may not get along or rewarding those who show kind behavior. Monitoring areas in the school that could be “hotspots” are important as well, as bullying is less likely to occur if an adult is nearby.
As a parent or caregiver, monitoring your child’s internet and social media use can limit your child’s exposure to cyberbullying. Being aware of their friends and social group is important as well, as this can help you identify when something is not right.
It is also important to not label the child, but rather focus on the child’s behavior. For example, labeling a child as “the bully” has a negative connotation that the child’s actions cannot be changed, and doesn’t take other factors of the behavior into consideration (school climate, peer pressure, etc.).
Overall it is important to understand bullying and the effects of bullying for everyone involved, and how to prevent it from happening or continuing. Together we can make an impact on many children’s lives.