October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As much as we wish bullying would disappear, the fact is one-third of all school-aged children are bullied every year, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center.
Bullying can take a serious toll on a student’s life. Students who are bullied are two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than are other children. And for those who do survive the experience, the effects of bullying last well into adulthood, leading to serious illness, addictions, and psychiatric disorders.
Bullying as an academic issue
It’s easy to understand how a fear of being bullied can paralyze students from focusing on school. Another study showed:
- Students who are repeatedly bullied receive poorer grades;
- Students participate less and may get mislabeled as low-achievers since they do not want to speak up in class for fear of getting bullied; and
- Students may not attend school at all.
Knowing bullying when you see it
When it’s overt, bullying is easy to detect. There’s an imbalance of power. Bullying occurs when one child purposefully hurts another, physically or emotionally.
A lot of bullying takes place under the radar of adults. Within their social interactions, students may be hurt from gossip or when left out of a game on purpose. Sometimes bullying qualifies as harassment, such as when students are subjected to cruel graphic or written statements, threats, and actions that humiliate them.
Resources for bullying help
In the U.S., 49 states now have anti-bullying laws, and schools may be held liable if harassment takes place under their watch. Most schools have policies on how to handle bullying. Additional resources include:
- Educator toolkits – one is kid-created (National Bullying Prevention Center)
- KidsAgainstBullying.org and TeensAgainstBullying.org
- StopBullying.gov by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The bottom line is that bullying is destructive behavior and when kids are being bullied, they can’t learn. What resources do you use to prevent bullying in your classroom?