Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Make time for National Bullying Prevention Month

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Bullying can take many forms between young kids as well as with older teenagers. It can involve verbal or physical taunts hurled offline in school playgrounds or locker rooms. Or it can be more menacing, with overt threats to one’s safety. The Stop Bullying site defines bullying as unwanted, aggressive behavior, involving a range of verbal bullying, social bullying and physical bullying. Each of these behaviors evolve from an unbalanced and unnecessary power imbalance.

More often in our mobile tech age, however, bullying takes its form online called cyberbullying. This online form of taunts, abuse and threatening behavior can be a terrible experience for a child. Children who get attacked from online cyberbullies can suffer from self-image issues or struggle with social interactions. Other symptoms include insecurity and depression that can arise from cyberbullying tactics. These attacks can affect school performance, too.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and parents and teachers will shift its focus to eliminating bullying from classrooms, playgrounds and digital outlets. Finding good sites online for parents can help with tips and activities to highlight the awareness. Activities include suggesting various media guidelines to reporters covering cyberbullying, youth engagement events and social media awareness online.

With more kids and teens on the Web for entertainment and knowledge, cyberbullying is taking center stage. One of the activities planned for the month falls on October 9th — it’s Unity Day, sponsored by Pacer.org. On this day, students can come together with teachers and administrators to show their colors for unity, in this case, orange. Downloadable fliers and wrist bands for unifying the students on Unity Day can be used to broaden support against cyberbullying. Students who have been victims of phishing cyber attacks can report phishing tactics to teachers and educators.

Nearly 45 percent of all children are reporting (via DoSomethingNow.org) that they have been in some way, humiliated, harassed or otherwise harmed by online bullying. So to combat this bad juju, the organization suggests setting up a good-news site for your class or school. Bring attention to the high points of a kid’s day, not the low points. Try these with your children:

  • Create a site with a catchy name and a good design look. Make sure the principal is aware of what you’re starting.
  • Write about good things done in your school. Get other students’ permission to mention them in stories, and get quotes to personalize the story.
  • Drum up some publicity for your web page or blog. Promote it with social media in friends’ feeds and through official school Internet channels.
  • Seek out other students’ reactions, and if they like it, ask them to help you with further work.

Visit this site by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for information and links to a wide array of anti-bullying sites. The site also includes tips and tactics for parents and educators when faced with a cyberbullying situation.

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