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Ending Bullying in Schools and Elsewhere

Monday, October 17, 2022

Bullying Prevention Month: photo shows an upset student sitting on the floor in front of a set of red lockers.Electronic bullying was among the adverse experiences high schoolers reported in 2021, according to a study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A survey of 4,000 high school students found that nearly three-quarters reported at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) last year, and that 8% reported four or more adverse experiences during the pandemic, greatly increasing their risk for mental health problems and suicide attempts, the researchers wrote.

During National Bullying Prevention Month, NewBridge Services is urging communities to take steps to stop all forms of bullying.

“Everyone can help prevent bullying by talking about it,” NewBridge Services CEO Michelle Borden said. “We need to support safe schools and communities where children see differences in people as positive, witness and express empathy, and learn peaceful ways of managing conflicts.”

Forms of Bullying

Bullying takes various forms, from physical abuse to verbal attacks and rumor-spreading, but always, the intention is to inflict harm. Children’s expanding access to cell phones, social media websites and software applications has contributed to cyberbullying. Most bullying incidents occur on school grounds, and more than half are reported in middle schools, according to the most recent Student Safety and Discipline in New Jersey Public Schools report.

Bullying doesn’t only harm the victim, but also the perpetrator. Studies also show that children who bully are more likely to have problems holding down a job, struggle in relationships, become dependent on alcohol or drugs, and get in trouble with the law.

What Students, Schools and Parents Can Do

“Parents, along with other caregivers, school staff and youth group leaders, can help to build resiliency in children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences like bullying by talking to them, providing consistent emotional support, and working on solving problems together,” said Elizabeth Jacobson, director of Community Response and Education at NewBridge.

Classmates can help diffuse bullying by speaking up. A 2012 study found that when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds in more than half of incidents. One of the most important approaches for schools is to implement rules that delineate acts of bullying and the consequences of those acts.

“School culture must hold the expectation that bullying is unacceptable, and encourage students to intervene as upstanders when they witness a bullying incident,” Borden said.  “Otherwise, the student doing the bullying may interpret non-action by bystanders as endorsement of their behavior.”

Here are warning signs from StopBullying.gov that indicate a child is being bullied, and others that a child may be doing the bullying:

Warning signs of being bullied:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • 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

Warning signs of perpetrating bullying:

  • 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

Here’s how children can help themselves

  • Treat everyone with respect. Stop yourself from saying or doing something that could hurt someone. And if you think you’ve ever bullied someone, say you’re sorry.
  • If you’re being bullied, look at the person who’s doing it and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. If you can’t, walk away. Talk to a trusted adult, who can help you make a plan to stop the bullying. Staying near adults and other kids can help you avoid bullying situations.
  • Stay safe online. Think about what you post, knowing someone could forward it. Don’t share anything that could hurt or embarrass someone. Don’t share passwords with friends or other classmates (but do share with your parents!) Check your security settings to ensure only the people you want to see your posts see them. If you get a message or see a post that alarms you, talk to a trusted adult.
  • Stand up for other kids. If you see bullying, let an adult know. Reach out to the person who was bullied so they know they are not alone.

In-School Resiliency Programs

NewBridge offers in-school trainings that teach children ways to handle bullying and deal with conflict, and educators ways to create a safe environment. Students learn coping skills and approaches to building self-image so they are less susceptible to other people’s opinions. Children learn to react non-emotionally to hurtful words and to take power away from a student who is bullying by not engaging 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 in-school program provided by NewBridge, contact Jacobson at (973) 973-686-2242 or visit newbridge.org.

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