Bullying is a problem affecting many youths and can have lasting impact on their lives. In the United States, 20.1% of high school students in grades 9-12 reported they were bullied on school property and 16.2% reported they were bullied electronically through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites or texting (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Center for Disease Control, 2011). To prevent bullying, it is necessary to understand the problem and know what steps to take to stop it.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is when someone repeatedly harms another person either physically or emotionally due to an imbalance of power. Actions such as physically or verbally attacking someone, spreading rumors, and purposely excluding someone from a group are examples of bullying. Recently, technology has opened up a new venue for bullying through the use of the internet, social media sites, and messaging, which is referred to as cyberbullying. The source of cyberbullying is difficult to locate and any harassing remarks or photos once they are posted online are hard to delete.
Who is likely to be a Bully?
People who bully others are often rejected and isolated by their peers. Those who bully others may:
- Be aggressive or easily frustrated
- Have trouble at home and at school
- Have a strong need to fit in or take control
- Have difficulty resolving problems with others
- Have negative attitudes and beliefs about others
- Have negative feelings toward self
Who is likely to be a Target of Bullying?
People who are socially isolated or have disabilities tend to be at an increased risk of being bullied. Individuals are picked on because they are seen as people who do not fit in. Those who are targets of being bullied may:
- Be viewed as different from their peers such as in weight, appearance, or actions
- Be perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves
- Be depressed, anxious, or have low self-esteem
- Be shy and unlikely to speak up
- Have trouble getting along with others
What are the Effects of Bullying?
Those who are being bullied are more likely to:
- Skip classes and not do well in school
- Have health complaints
- Have increased mental health problems including depression and anxiety, which may persist into adulthood
How to Avoid Being a Target of Bullying
- Develop self confidence and self esteem
- Learn to stand up for yourself
- Look the bully in the eye and say STOP when being bullied
- Don’t react to comments from bullies but simply walk away
- Stick with your peers and within sight of an adult
- Stay away from areas where bullies tend to strike
- Tell a trusted adult if you are continuously being bullied
What to Do
- If you or someone you know is being bullied, report it to a parent, teacher, principal, counselor, coach or an adult you trust
- If you or someone you know is being cyber bullied, report it to the internet service providers/ social media sites, a trusted adult, or law enforcement
- If you or someone you know feels hopeless and is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- If there is immediate harm, call 911
No one deserves to be bullied. Remember that you are not alone and there are people who care and will help you