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For some children, bullying can become a round-the-clock reality with no escape. An incident that takes place in a school hallway can carry over and be amplified on social media. A study by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2015 found that one in five middle and high school students is a victim of bullying
“The explosion in social media sites and apps have created so many avenues for kids to be cruel, especially when they feel they can make attacks anonymously,” said Mary Vineis, the director of Community Response and Education at NewBridge Services.
“Bullying can cause serious emotional scars for victims, and perpetrators don’t fair well in adulthood either,” Vineis said. Studies show that children who bully are more likely as adults to have trouble keeping a job and maintaining relationships, and are more prone to addiction.
Teaching children skills to handle bullying and deal with conflict, and creating an environment where bullying is not accepted are key ways adults can turn the tide on bullying, said Vineis. During National Bullying Prevention Month, parents are urged to talk to their children about the harm bullying can cause and ways they can protect themselves and others.
“When you create an anti-bullying culture, most students are willing to intervene when they see it happening and let adults know, to put a stop to it,” Vineis said.
Here are warning signs from StopBullying.gov that a child is being bullied, or doing the bullying:
•Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
•Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
•Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating
•Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
•Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
•Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
•Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
•Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
•Gets into physical or verbal fights
•Has friends who bully others
•Shows increasingly aggressiveness
•Gets sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
•Has unexplained extra money or new belongings
•Blames others for their problems
•Doesn’t accept responsibility for their actions
•Worries about their reputation or popularity
Talk with your child to ensure they feel safe. If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, the Cyber Bullying Research Center recommends you print out or take screenshots of the bullying and work with the school for a remedy. Go through official channels rather than contact the parents of the person who did the bullying.
NewBridge offers in-school workshops on bullying. NewBridge’s anti-bullying program teaches coping skills and alternative approaches to building self-image so youngsters aren’t as susceptible to other people’s opinions. Children learn not to react emotionally to hurtful words and to not engage the bully, taking control away from him.
NewBridge also offers programs for parents, to let them know what the latest threats are and how best to cope with them. For more information about what NewBridge offers schools, contact Vineis at 973-686-2228 or visit newbridge.org.
NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey serving 10,000 adults and seniors last year alone. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers; and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its more than 50-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.