Bullying in American is on the rise. More than 160,000 students stay home each day for fear of being bullied—and millions more have to face their tormentors in school and social situations every day. In Weld County, nearly 1 in 5 students report being bullied at school.
But bullying doesn’t just happen in school. It can happen anywhere…at home, a sports event, concert, park, shopping center, bike trails, parking lots—anywhere kids and teens are.
There are also more ways than ever to bully someone, thanks to new technologies like social media, photo and video capabilities in cell phones and other sophisticated methods.
When bullying exists, everyone loses:
- Those being bullied have lower self-esteem, less confidence and increased fear, depression and anxiety. They can develop suicidal thoughts and perform worse in school and life.
- Bullies grow up to have a much greater risk of getting in trouble with the law. In fact, by the age of 25, one in four bullies will spend time in jail.
- Those witnessing bullying experience feelings of helplessness, fear and guilt.
What Is Bullying
We’ve all experienced or witnessed bullying before. It’s when one person intentionally harms or hurts another with words or behavior, and the one being hurt is unable to defend themselves. Bullying is also rarely an isolated incident. It’s often repeated, targeting the same victim, over and over again. The bully is usually older, physically bigger or stronger or has more social status. It can also be a group of kids who “gang up” on someone else.
Bullying can be:
- Physical—pushing, shoving, kicking, hitting, biting, hair pulling, breaking, damaging or taking possessions and inappropriate touching.
- Sexual—using words that demean someone about their gender or sexuality, unwelcome physical contact, inappropriate touching, posting inappropriate photos online.
- Verbal—teasing, calling names, threats, demeaning jokes, gossip, spreading rumors, slander and intimidation.
- Emotional—usually done by a group, rather than an individual. Includes leaving someone out on purpose, flying to hurt another’s reputation, humiliating someone publicly.
- Cyberbullying—using technology to bully someone, including spreading rumors through social networking sites or sending or posting mean messages, texts, videos, stories or photos that hurt or ridicule someone.
There are many forms of bullying, and there are different signs that a friend or family member might be the target of a bully. If you see one or more of these signs, speak up. Ask your friend or family member if they are being bullied. Then, contact an adult who can be of assistance—a teacher, parent, older sibling, school counselor or family friend.
- Bruises, scratches and other physical evidence of abuse
- An increase in damaged or lost personal items or clothing
- Increased moodiness, sadness, depression or anxiousness
- Change in friends
- Change in sleep or eating patterns
- A change in school performance
- Physical complaints about headaches, stomach aches or other reasons to miss school or social activities
- Emotional withdrawal or talk about suicide
What You Can Do
Bystanders to bullying often aren’t sure what to do. They fear retaliation if they stand up for someone being bullied. They might be embarrassed to speak up, or just want to belong. But the truth is, it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in a bullying situation. Here’s what you can do:
- No matter what, don’t join in or encourage bullying. Your non-support sends a message that you don’t agree with what is happening
- Help the victim of bullying. Choose to walk or stand with them so they are not alone. Let them know you don’t agree with what’s happening
- Post a positive message on their social media site or let the bullies know you don’t think it’s right to make fun of people online. You can also report the online bullying and service providers will remove the post
- If the bullying is violent, like a fight, don’t intervene. Find an adult or authority figure immediately
- Inform your parents, teachers and school officials about the bullying
- Talk to your friends and ask them to help stop bullying, too. Make the bully feel isolated
- Join or start a bullying prevention program at your school
Find Out More
More and more people are speaking out about bullying, which means there’s lot of information out there. Here are a few of our favorite links that can provide more information, tips and advice about bullying.