October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time to focus and increase awareness and education around bullying. This month-long event serves to help prevent childhood bullying and promote kindness, acceptance and inclusion. National Bullying Prevention Month is a campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
Photo Credit: PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
Did you know, according to Crime Stoppers source, 82% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness last year?
At IDEA Public Schools, we want to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, and we are deeply committed to reducing and preventing bullying and cyberbullying inside and outside of our classrooms and creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community for all students.
This month, students across the district are learning about bullying prevention through presentations and workshops, interactive activities, and creative projects! Together, we can engage our students in productive and supportive conversations about bullying.
Students at IDEA Bluff Springs participating in National Bullying Prevention activity on positive affirmations and encouragement
IDEA San Benito staff pose in orange in honor of Unity Day – a celebration to raise awareness about bullying
IDEA Robindale students listen to an anti-bullying presentation from the Brownsville Police Department
To help our families learn more, we asked two IDEA professionals to explain the different types of bullying, what types of identifiers to look for in someone bullying or being bullied and resources for parents to combat and report bullying at home.
What is bullying? Bullying is an unwanted behavior by another individual or group of individuals that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may harm or distress the targeted individual, including physical, psychological, social or educational harm. Cyberbullying or cyber harassment is a form of online bullying or harassment using electronic means. Bullying can also be defined as one who is intentionally seeking to harm or intimidate someone.
There are three types of bullying: physical bullying, verbal bullying and social bullying. Verbal or emotional bullying examples include teasing or intentionally excluding someone from a group.
Bullying can happen to anyone! That’s why it is important to know and identify signs of someone bullying or being bullied.
“It is important to create a school-wide bullying prevention strategy,” said Briseida Alanis, academic counselor at IDEA Elsa College Prep. “Adults need to respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior and send the message that it is unacceptable. Counselors, parents, staff and teachers can support by stopping bullying in action and by talking about bullying in a safe environment where students feel included.”
Briseida Alanis, Academic Counselor at IDEA Elsa College Prep
A person who is bullied in a school setting may display the following behaviors:
- Frequent injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent illness or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
While it is important to identify a person being bullied, it is just as important to identify a bully. A person who is a bully may display the following behaviors:
- Get into physical or verbal fights
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or detention frequently
- Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Blame others for their problems
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
Bullying and being bullied can both be an outcry for help. A bully may be experiencing abuse, lack of friends, difficulties learning, or family dynamics issues themselves, whereas a person being bullied may lose self-esteem, experience anxiety and depression, thoughts of self-harm, and/or suicidal ideations.
“Bullying prevention is helping build equity in our community,” said DeAnna Dotson, social worker at IDEA Hardy Academy. “As we provide a safe learning environment to students, we address and encourage mental wellness. My role as a social worker is to offer an outlet for students to express themselves, learn coping skills, receive positive reinforcements and feedback. I believe once students can address their emotional and mental barriers, they are more likely to succeed in the classroom.”
DeAnna Dotson, Social Worker at IDEA Hardy Academy
Parents can also play an important role in identifying and helping stop bullying or cyberbullying. It is important that parents are informed about the different types of bullying (listed above) and keep in constant communication with their child about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing in school. Parents can serve as kindness role models, create safe spaces to talk with their child about bullying and mental health and implement different ways to build up self-esteem.
“By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show kids that there is no place for bullying,” said Alanis. “Children also need to speak out if they are being bullied! It is my priority as a counselor to ensure that every child feels safe, included and valued. We’re always here to help.”
If you think your child is being bullied or bullying others in school, please reach out to your campus leaders, academic counselor or social worker right away!
Helpful Resources for Families
Blog Cover Photo Description: IDEA San Benito staff pose in orange in honor of Unity Day – a yearly celebration to raise awareness about bullying and promote unity, acceptance, and inclusion.