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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This is a topic I take to heart as I was bullied throughout my entire childhood. Sadly, bullying has only become easier and more intense. Bullying, especially cyberbullying (or electronic bullying), is continually on the rise. Bullying is classified as behavior that is aggressive and/or unwanted aiming to seek harm, or intimidation, between youth that involve a control of power and is repeated over time (name calling, rumors, physical threats, etc.).

Bullying and The Facts

One thing we know for sure is that bullying is common, and not just with younger kids. Bullying is frequent, and the highest reported problem in schools and a major epidemic online with the increased use of social media. Bullying has dire consequences, for not only the victim, but the perpetrator as well. Injury, emotional and physical distress, and even suicide are all possibilities when bullying is involved. There is a higher risk for anxiety and depression, sleep issues and school drop-out rates are higher. Typically those who bully have been bullied themselves and are at a higher risk for drug use and addiction, problems in school and violence throughout their adulthood.

Below are some astonishing facts according to the CDC:

  • 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property in the last year.
  • Reports of cyberbullying among public school attending students are highest for middle school (33%), followed by high school (30%), combined schools (20%) and primary schools (5%).
  • Nearly 14% of public schools report that bullying happens at least once a week.

Bullying rates have dramatically increased over the years. We need to listen to our children more. We need to listen to students more. By listening to what is happening in our school systems, we not only have the ability to react quicker, but also aid in generating awareness, discussion and any necessary action needed to prevent bullying.

Nearly 43% of all students have experienced or seen someone being bullied online, and it increases to 59% for teenagers alone.

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Realities about Bullying: At School and Online

Although bullying occurs at all ages, it tends to be the worst in middle school. As mentioned above, over 30% of students in middle schools report that they are bullied each year. There are several factors for this age group, but it primarily centers around the fact that middle school is a transition phase for many children: a new (and often larger) school, new friends, puberty, increased learning expectations, and learning how to cope/handle all of the emotions that come with these changes.

Bullying tends to target youth that appear as weak or socially inept, and they are often bullied for their body type, looks, sexual orientation and/or ethnicity. To be more specific, LGBTQ youth are considered high-risk for bullying, along with young women, students with disabilities, and religious students. And yes, bullying continues even into college and adulthood.

I want to take a minute to discuss cyberbullying and social media and how it has increased bullying exponentially. Although youth have been bullying one another for generations, the rise of cyberbullying (nearly 43% of all students have experienced or seen someone being bullied online, and it increases to 59% for teenagers alone) is due in large part to various methods of communication that most youth now have access to on a daily basis, as they are completely intertwined with technology almost from birth.

The use of the ever-popular Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram just scratch the surface, as apps like WhatsApp, YOLO, TikTok and YouTube are even being utilized for bullying purposes. Believe it or not, gaming apps like Fortnite have also become an issue. Unless you’re blocked, you have immediate and constant access to almost anyone you want. There are dozens of apps that even let you do it anonymously (such as Yik Yak and Whisper).

Bullying Prevention

I think the hardest part to swallow is that bullying is preventable. Of course, it is often times easier said than done. Through a stable family environment, good education and involvement in school programs or mentoring, community activities, and even at times, early intervention, these all have the ability to decrease the likelihood your children will become bullies (and/or be bullied). In a perfect world, this would be ideal… but we know in a lot of areas and with a lot of families, this is not possible to achieve whether it is due to livelihood, or poverty, or even a parent’s schedule.

The CDC provides a lot of information on how to prevent or handle bullying should it be something you’re concerned about, or even witnessing first-hand. You can read about prevention of youth violence and associated risk behaviors here. Anti-bullying policies are crucial to prevention, and consistent consequences need to be upheld, both by parents and the schools. We need to take advantage of all the resources provided to us to aid in preventing the epidemic of bullying.

Don’t forget that kids, themselves, can make a huge difference in reducing bullying. Kindness goes a long way. Watch this video of the Ellen show about a couple of highschool students, Kristopher Graham and Antwan Garrett, that went above and beyond to help out their bullied classmate, Micheal Todd. There is hope that more and more youth will continue to stand up to bullying, and it’s unfortunate that bullying has gotten so bad, that those who “do-right” become overnight celebrities. Let that sink in for awhile. October might be National Bullying Prevention Month, but it’s a constant, daily issue that we face.

About the writer

Beth Lehner

Digital Marketing Strategist

Beth has over a decade of marketing experience ranging everywhere from the newspaper industry to the medical field. Her true passion is helping companies grow and flourish, which is why she’s the perfect fit for Team Quotacy and their value system. Outside of working, Beth loves anything outdoors, live music, traveling and spending time with her son.