While schools strive to create safe, nurturing environments year-round, bullying is an extensive problem that deserves high-priority status. In October, several organizations have joined forces to support schools as they work to create a safer, more accepting environment. National Bullying Prevention Month was founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Centerto prevent childhood bullying and promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
It’s Time to Get Your School Involved in Bullying Prevention
The good news is that research indicates that effective bullying prevention programs can help reduce bullying at school (source). The results can be widespread, including reducing school absentee rates, raising student performance, lowering student stress levels, and increasing mental, emotional, and physical health.
It’s not difficult to get involved and start your anti-bullying campaign by connecting with organizations that offer helpful tools to get you started.
Two organizations to connect with for resources and support include:
PACER’s Unity Day:PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is helping schools prepare for Unity Day on October 18 by offering promotional materials and creative ideas for promoting anti-bullying though October and beyond.
By using the available resources, we can all get on board, proactively raising awareness throughout the month about what defines bullying, the gravity of bullying, and the importance of standing up for inclusivity and acceptance in our schools.
How Serious Are the Effects of Bullying?
Bullying can happen at any age, in any setting. We all think we recognize bullying but may not have a common understanding of the problem—especially how serious it is regardless of the form or degree of intensity. However some students, bystanders, and even bullies may view this behavior as a relatively harmless rite of passage. Victims themselves may downplay their experiences and feelings.
National Bullying Prevention Month provides the opportunity to raise awareness of the negative consequences of bullying. Victims may develop academic difficulties, emotional and mental distress, risky behaviors, self-harm, and even taking one’s own life. Those who bully others are more likely to engage in risky behaviors even into adulthood, including alcohol and drug abuse, engaging in violence and criminal activities, dropping out of school, and being abusive to romantic partners, spouses, and children.
Students and Adults May Not Always Recognize Bullying
It’s our job to make students, teachers, and the adults around them aware of how common bullying is and its dire consequences, both immediate and long-term. Warning sign prevention can teach students and adults how to spot all types of bullying, including those below.
Physical Bullying and Intimidation: Including kicking, hitting, blocking, shoving, unwanted touching, physical intimidation, and stealing or damaging possessions
Verbal Bullying: Including name calling, persistent teasing, making threats, and making offensive comments about someone’s appearance, gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual identity or orientation, or other attribute
Social or Relational Bullying: Including intimidation: Including Deliberately ignoring or preventing someone from joining or being part of a group or activity, spreading rumors, purposefully damaging relationships and friendships, embarrassing someone in public, and sharing information or images that may cause harm
Recognizing and Reporting Bullying –In-Person or Online
As technology has evolved and become more accessible, bullying has expanded to include in-person and cyberbullying. Each is widespread, destructive, sometimes hard to spot, and often unreported. Here are some facts about each.
In-Person Bullying: According to the CDC, one in five students reported being bullied at school in the last year, and nearly14% of public schools report that bullying is a discipline problem occurring daily or at least once a week. With the prevalence of bullying, it’s troubling 43 percent of students would not interfere in verbal bullying and 48 percent would not interfere in relational or social bullying.
Cyberbullying: According to the CDC, more than one in six high school students reported being bullied electronically in the last year using technology they use daily, such as text, emails, and chat rooms. Cyberbullying allows students to hide behind screens to create widespread rumors, send unwanted pictures or videos, and otherwise spread harmful messages. One noteworthy statistic from the NIH is that 60% of school shooters reported being bullied in-person or online.
Technology Solutions for Self-Help, Reporting, and Crisis Intervention
National Bullying Prevention Month is a great time to explore new solutions to support victims of bullying, bystanders, and even bullies themselves for a safer, more positive school environment. Technology and mobile solutions can be an integral part of your year-long anti-bullying efforts.
Even when students want to help, they may feel unsafe or vulnerable. They may be hesitant to break the student’s typical code of silence, wary of trusting adults, or unclear on how to report incidents. The right technology can provide innovative ways to support your district or school anti-bullying efforts.
One Company’s Mobile-Based Solutions for Bullying Prevention Programs
Schools can benefit from technology-based systems that offer multiple submission efforts, ensure anonymity, and provide options that meet the diverse needs of students and the adults around them. There are a variety of companies that offer different types of tools that can help with a school’s anti-bullying efforts. Let’s look at STOPit Solutions' comprehensive approach, which includes methods for anonymous reporting, self-help, and crisis intervention.
Anonymous Reporting Solution: The Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) by STOPit Solutions is a mobile phone hub that allows individuals to report bullying incidents anonymously. Using ARS, students can report bullying behavior through the ARS app or website or directly connect with trained crisis counselors at the Crisis Text Line™ to prevent immediate harm. ARS includes warning sign training and is invaluable for schools that need a configurable solution to accurately gather, manage, inform and document incidents submissions and actions.
Self-Help Alternatives: Many people want to help themselves, but they don’t all want to do it the same way. When bullying is a concern, some students or adults around them want to find support resources on their own for emotional, mental, or physical distress. Others want to connect with school resources. Still others need immediate crisis prevention. The HELPme K12 solution from STOPit offers all three methods, meeting the trust level of each person. The three components of the mobile app makes it easy to do the following:
Get Resources: Students who are feeling the stress of being bullied—and the adults who care about them—may want to find appropriate support and resources on their own. The Get Resources component of HELPme provides an easy, all-in-one place to access resources for emotional and mental health needs.
Crisis Text Line: When bullying leads to extreme distress, the HELPme app can connect students directly with the Crisis Text Line, where trained volunteers are ready 24/7/365 to provide free, 24/7, high quality anonymous text-based mental health support and crisis intervention.
Ask for Help from Your School: This HELPme component provides two-way communication between school resources and anyone involved with or aware of bullying, promoting a school culture of caring.
Other Resources and Support for Bullying Prevention
Get help immediatelyif you or someone you know is suicidal Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
The STOMP Out Bullying™ Live HelpChat Line is a free and confidential help chat intended to assist kids and teens over the age of 13 who are victims of bullying and those who may be at-risk for suicide as a result of bullying
Get Support for Your District or School Anti-Bullying Program
National Bullying Prevention month is the perfect opportunity to communicate that no child should ever have to endure bullying. Students, teachers, and families can work together to forge an accepting school culture where students stand up for each other and bullying is not tolerated. Contact STOPit Solutions to find new ways you can use convenient mobile technology to support your anti-bullying efforts and support victims of bullying in October and throughout the school year.