Bullying is a widespread and serious problem. From the playground to the classroom to the Internet, bullying can happen anywhere at anytime. A recent national bullying study found that 40% of educators consider bullying to be a moderate or major problem in their schools and that 32% of students ages 12-18 have experienced bullying at some point.
Bullying involves an individual or group of people repeatedly abusing another person—physically (e.g. hitting), verbally (e.g. name-calling), and/or socially (e.g. spreading rumors)—inflicting a real or perceived imbalance of power.
With the rise of social media, bullies can now reach their targets from behind their computers and cellophanes. According to a Cyberbullying study by McAfee, almost one in four of teens claim to be a target of cyberbullying and two-thirds of all teens have witnessed cyberbullying online.
Acts of bullying are not isolated incidents. There are almost always peers, adults, and other community members aware that the bullying is taking place. Constant name-calling, threats, physical abuse, and gossip can leave a child seriously hurt and depressed. The person being bullied does not know how or does not have the power to make it stop. They need your help.
In just fifteen minutes you can help stop bullying in your community by learning how to recognize bullying, educating others, and intervening to stop children from being harmed by bullies.
I Did This!
- Your family: If you have kids, teach them that bullying is wrong. Use online resources provided for bullied kids and bullied teens to help them come up with a plan for what to do if they experience bullying as a victim or an observer. The StopBullying.gov website has games and videos for kids to learn about how to stop bullying. Watch the videos and play the game with your children. If your child has experienced bullying first-hand, help them know they are not alone. For LGBT youth and allies, the It Gets Better Project is a great online community for resources and support.
- Your friends and neighbors: Take a few minutes to share this bullying information with people in your neighborhood. Print out free Bullying.org pamphlets and leave them at your local library, church, or coffee shop. Encourage adults and children to speak up and stop bullying wherever they see it.
- Your social network: Use Facebook’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up app to pledge to make a difference and spread the word online. Follow and participate in the conversation via Twitter by using the hashtag #bullying. Lookup your state’s current anti-bullying laws. If you don’t find the existing laws or policies to be strong enough, start a Change.org petition to draw attention to the issue.
- Your local schools: StopBullying.gov has a wealth of anti-bullying material aimed at helping teachers, school administrators, parents, and students recognize and prevent bullying. Print some of the school bullying materials and give them to your local school district or email officials the link. The National Crime Prevention Council also provides lessons adults can use to teach kids in grades 1-3 about bullying. You may also want to suggest the school screen the widely acclaimed documentary Bully and use their free viewing guides to open up the conversation. For schools that want to take the next step, you can suggest they institute an online bully-reporting program similar to the one used by Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida.
- October is National Bullying Prevention Month: See how you can get involved in online and offline events here.
- Stop bullying when you see it: By now, you know what to do. The next time you see a child being victimized by a bully, don't let the abuse continue. Your actions to stop bullying will help victimized children have hope again and will pave the way for others to stop letting senseless bullying harm young lives.