Text by Monica Oganes
Incidents in schools and communities have recently highlighted bullying like never before. Bullying occurs when a person is targeted negatively with repetitive aggressive and unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior that involves an imbalance of power. Bullying happens during or after school hours in places like the playground, the school bus, and the Internet. With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that 20% of high school students experience bullying and the prevalence permeating in elementary and middle school, we need to be the generation that becomes involved in the solution. What can we do to prevent bullying?
Keeping communication open and talking about bullying while teaching children strategies to stand up for themselves safely is an important step in prevention. Being involved in children’s activities, asking questions, monitoring Internet use, and participating in their school and community life is imperative, as it will facilitate healthy interaction and communication. Adults should model respectful and kind behavior, as children learn from observation. Teaching tolerance toward those who bully and opting for treating them with kindness and respect, will stimulate change and promote healing as a society, rather than encouraging more unwanted behavior.
At home, parents should raise children in an environment that is conducive to promoting positive self-esteem and a problem-solving attitude when challenges arise. Parents that react negatively to life situations while taking frustrations out on the family, for instance, risk raising children who do the same or who accept the same behavior from peers. Our own behavior affects children. Likewise, at school, educators need to build a supportive school climate so students feel safe everywhere on campus, sending a message that bullying is not acceptable behavior.
Let’s take an active role in bullying prevention and inspire others to get involved in improving our society. The end of bullying begins with you!
Monica Oganes, M.A., Ed.S.
Licensed School Psychologist