KIDS & PARENTS: End Bullying. Do These 5 Things.
Bullying has become such a widespread problem in the United States that October is now known as National Bullying Prevention Month. But a year-round commitment is required of schools, parents, and children to put an end to bullying and to create a safe environment for all. To find out how, read more on westa.org below.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” – John 15:12 (ESV)
What is Bullying? Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children. It involves a real or perceived power imbalance and the behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and kids who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
BULLYING IS ON THE RISE
- Middle school students were more likely to be bullied than high school students. Nearly 21% of elementary schoolers and 40 percent of middle-schoolers said they’d been bullied. One in five high school students reported being bullied on school property in the last year.
- Higher rates of bullying were reported at majority white schools. Students of color in these schools experienced a steeper increase in bullying over last year. Nearly 14% of public schools report that bullying happens at least once a week.
- Most students who were bullied said it was because of how they looked. Gender and race were the next highest reasons.
- Most bullying happens in person, with the majority of students saying they’d been verbally harassed.
- Reports of cyberbullying are highest for middle schools (33%), followed by high schools (30%), combined schools (20%), and primary schools (5%).
The impact of bullying can be far-reaching. Youth and teens who are bullied can endure physical injuries or experience social and emotional distress, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The center’s studies say that those who are bullied are also at increased risk for:
- sleep difficulties
- lower academic achievement
- dropping out of school
But bullies are also at risk. They may be at increased risk for:
- mental and behavioral problems
- academic problems
- dropping out of school
- substance use/abuse
- being victims of physical abuse
- crime/deviant behavior later in adolescence or adulthood
Whether children are bullied or they bully others, the studies show that they may be vulnerable to other types of abuse.
5 THINGS WHICH HELP CREATE AN ANTI-BULLYING ENVIRONMENT
All children deserve to have the best life we can provide to them. But in today’s environment, the African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has never been more necessary. Whether a child bullies others or is the victim of such abuse, it takes extra effort from the entire community to:
1. Encourage children to adhere to their Christian values and faith (Proverbs 22:6).
Bullying others goes against all that we believe as Christians. Giving time and resources to those who are less fortunate is a cornerstone of our faith as believers in Christ. Support in children the moral ideals of love, empathy, patience, hope, excellence. Encourage prayer, through which God speaks to us and us to Him. Let children know that they represent their families and their community, and that they are ambassadors of Christ.
2. Encourage kindness by setting an example (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The National Education Association says: “It takes SIX or more supportive adults to truly make a difference.” But according to Teaching Tolerance, even teachers, unfortunately, can be bullies too. Children learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show children that bullying is unacceptable. Positive family interaction and communication is important. Research shows that parents and caregivers who spend at least 15 minutes a day talking with their children or teens help build strong relationships, and prevent bullying. Even if it seems as if they are not paying attention, children use the adults around them as an example of how to behave. They watch how adults manage stress and conflict as well as how they treat strangers, their friends, their colleagues, and other family members.
3. Encourage scholastic achievement and excellence (Philippians 4:13).
Many children feel hopeless today. But scholastic achievement and strong direction gives a child hope that he can do great things. Believing in Jesus means that we “can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.” It requires seeking excellence and doing our best because God gave His best for us. Likewise, scholastic excellence keeps his or her focus on the future, and builds a sense of security.
4. Encourage social skills (Matthew 18:19-20).
Organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts encourage teamwork and camaraderie. They also help the elderly and the less fortunate; thereby training children early to care for others who are different in some way than they are. Many Christian schools build mentoring programs into their school experiences by requiring upperclassmen to take younger students under their wings. Traveling and playing sports are also excellent ways to develop the skills necessary for navigating challenging situations in life. These examples can build confidence, teach conflict resolution, and forge relationships with children from diverse backgrounds.
5. Encourage youths to follow their purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).
Today, it’s common to encourage kids to do what they love or want to do in life. But helping a child develop into what God has created them to be keeps them focused on a higher purpose. Help children explore subjects, activities, interests, and hobbies which are related to their purpose. This may connect them with others who are on a similar path. Following one’s uniques path and skills also creates confidence, and a vision of future goals beyond what’s current or popular. To focus on God’s purpose and will for our lives, as Bishop Blake says, is the safest place to be!
Not all children who are bullied show signs of it, but StopBullying.gov suggests being aware of any of these common signs:
- Unexplained injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
Whether you see any of these signs or not, it is important to communicate with your children and to keep the lines of communication open. Ask questions about their time at school, and create hypothetical scenarios to understand how they might handle challenging situations. Work with your school to create and develop an environment in which children can thrive.
FOR MORE RESOURCES
West Angeles does not endorse the following organizations. This list is simply a guide; please use your own discernment and wisdom:
- TEACHING TOLERANCE – A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance was founded in 1991 to prevent the growth of hate. Their mission is to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Their website has many resources and articles on the prevention of bullying. CLICK HERE to learn more.
- STOPBULLYING.GOV – Find out where your state stands on bullying. For laws and government resources on bullying, CLICK HERE.
- KNOWBULLYING App – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released the free KnowBullying app. It empowers parents, caregivers, and educators with the tools they need to start the conversation with their children about bullying. Download the app HERE.
- TAKE THE PLEDGE! To adopt the National Education Association’s Anti-bullying pledge at your school, click HERE.
- US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES has a free flashcard download with guidelines and ideas on communicating with children about bullying. To download, CLICK HERE.
- US CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL has started the VETO VIOLENCE movement to help protect children and adults from violence and neglect, and to curb bullying at its source. To read more, CLICK HERE.
- NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS – For their research on crime, violence, safety, and discipline in Schools, CLICK HERE to download the PDF.