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Bullying takes various forms, from physical abuse to verbal attacks and rumor-spreading, but always, the intention is to inflict harm. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, with a goal of raising awareness about bullying and teaching adults and children how to prevent and stop it.
“It is imperative to create a school culture that embraces people’s differences, addresses underlying issues that lead to bullying, and creates an expectation that the behavior won’t be accepted,” said Mary Vineis, the director of Community Response and Education at NewBridge Services.
In schools, Vineis teaches children ways to handle bullying and deal with conflict, and educators about creating 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.
One in Five Bullied
About one in five students is bullied, with more incidents occurring in middle schools, surveys have found. All forms of it cause suffering that can leave serious emotional scars. Children who bully also are affected: 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, Vineis said. Bullying also has been found to have negative consequences for children who witness an incident but do nothing to stop it.
“Children who are not the actors in a bullying incident, but rather bystanders, must be taught that they can have a powerful role in shutting it down,” Vineis said. A 2012 study found that when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds in more than half of incidents. “When bystanders say or do nothing, the kid who is doing the bullying may interpret that as them endorsing the behavior,” Vineis said.
While most bullying takes place on school grounds and buses, smartphones and apps have expanded its reach. “Too often, children unwittingly become agents of bullying when they share rumors about another student on social media,” Vineis said.
Here are warning signs from StopBullying.gov that indicate a child is being bullied, and others that a child may be doing the bullying:
Here’s how children can help themselves:
For more information about in-school program provided by NewBridge, 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 more than 8,000 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 55-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.