October: It’s a month filled with pumpkin-flavored coffee, jack o’lanterns, baking-scented candles, and all of the other accouterments of autumn. It’s also Bullying Prevention Month. Kids have been back in school for a month or two by this point, and kids who have been home all summer are now getting back into their routines, which include friendships, cliques, and, all too often, bullying behavior.
Knowing the signs of bullying and also knowing how to end the practice is important for parents, teachers, and other adults in the community. Paradigm builds awareness by placing ribbons on trees. Read on to learn about how to detect bullying, what to do if you see it, and how changing the community’s response to bullying can help children today and in the future.
Signs of Bullying
Adults should be aware of the signs of being bullied and also the signs that a child might be a bully. Kids who are being bullied might have unexplained injuries or missing items (jackets, cellphones, skateboards, etc.). They might try to get out of school with fake illnesses. The stress that being bullied causes can also lead to real symptoms of headaches and stomachaches. They might have nightmares or find it hard to sleep. Kids might isolate themselves from friends or exhibit signs of depression.
Kids who are bullies often have problems of their own. They might be very worried about what others think of them and might place popularity over everything else. Getting into fights, blaming others for their problems, not taking responsibility for their actions, and getting sent to the principal’s office frequently might mean that a child is a bully. Often, a bully will insist that it’s always “the other kid’s fault,” but there’s a pattern that suggests otherwise.
How to Help a Bully and a Victim
Both the bully and the victim are helped by taking quick action. Both might need counseling. The school should be involved as soon as a problem is suspected. Parents should ask to see the anti-bullying policies that the school has in place. In serious cases, law enforcement might need to be involved. Parents and teachers need to take the problem seriously to stop the cycle of bullying.
Changing How Bullying Is Perceived
Some people think that being bullied is a part of life. They might believe that children need to just learn to deal with bullying as preparation for “the real world.” Of course, adults, in general, are not bullied. There are clear workplace and legal policies that prevent the situation from developing, in almost all cases. Also, bullied children have an increased risk of suicide and violence; several high-profile school shootings were committed by teens who had been bullied.
By changing how bullying is perceived, being alert to the possibility of a bullying situation, and taking quick actions, a community can nip the problem in the bud and make school a safer place for all children.