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National Bullying Prevention Month Raises Awareness

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By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – It is a real problem and kids are confronted with it every day. Unfortunately, not enough people take it seriously and someone winds up hurting themselves or hurting someone else.

You will hear comments like, “Suck it up,” or “Everybody gets bullied in school! Bullying is just a rite of passage!” or “Kids today need to toughen up and stop being wimps.”

Scan through the comments section of any online news article pertaining to the topic of bullying, and you’re likely to find several of this sort. Many people think bullying is no big deal, an ordinary part of life that everyone goes through and which requires no intervention simply because “… they’re young, it’ll pass.”

Students who have lived through bullying in recent years, however, are well aware that the issue is not one that should be taken lightly.

October in National Bullying Prevention Month, a time to focus and raise awareness on bullying.  During this month, many groups across the country will release new resources, campaigns, and efforts aimed at bringing awareness to the issue of bullying.

According to the website www.youth.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.  Bullying can also take place through technology, known as cyberbullying. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.”

The website further stated, “There are many other types of aggressive behavior that don’t fit the definition of bullying. This does not mean that they are any less serious or require less attention than bullying. Rather, these behaviors require different prevention and response strategies.”

There are ways to help prevent bullying and www.stopbullying.gov has compiled several tips to help parents, school staff, and other caring adults combat this problem. Among these helpful hints are:

  • Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
  • Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
  • Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

The unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 have made it even more important to support the health and safety of students. One of every five students reports being bullied during the school year. The percentage of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying has nearly doubled in the last decade.

“October is a time when educators, students, parents, and community members can unite to share their support of bullying prevention,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “Together, we can make our schools, communities, and online environments safer.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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