October is National Bullying Prevention Month and it’s a problem that affects millions of children across the nation each year. According to a study on stopbullying.gov, 49 percent of children in grades 4 through 12 reported being bullied by other students at least once during the past month.
There are two modes and four types through which bullying can occur. The two modes are direct, in which the target is present, and indirect, in which the target is not present. The four types are physical, like kicking and punching; verbal, such as teasing; relational, including spreading rumors and purposeful exclusion; and digital, where mean messages or images can be sent and spread.
The American Society for the Positive Care of Children (ASPCC) describes kids who are obsessed with popularity, like to be in charge of others, are aggressive or have friends who are bullies as those who are more likely to become bullies themselves. Children who think badly of others, don’t follow rules and view violence in a positive way are also more prone to becoming a bully.
A lack of attention from parents, being bullied by a sibling or witnessing parents’ inability to peacefully deal with conflict are more personal factors that can cause a child to become a bully, according to STOMP Out Bullying.
In the case of your child being the bully, KidsHealth.org recommends trying to understand the reason behind their behavior. Speak firmly with them about the negative impacts their behavior is having on others. Teach that it is wrong to ridicule others because of their differences and remind them that bullying, in any form, is unacceptable.
Most at risk of being a target of bullying are those who are perceived as being different from their peers, are unable to defend themselves, are less popular, and have low self-esteem.
Stopbullying.gov, an extensive resource on all things bullying-related, explains how children are often afraid to come forward and reach out for help when they are the victim of bullying because they fear a negative response from their parents or feel ashamed that this is happening to them. If you suspect your child is dealing with a bullying issue, it is important to know how to respond.
According to the ASPCC, reluctance to go to school, headaches, stomachaches, reduced appetite, anxiety, irritability, aggression and depression are just a few of the most common effects bullying can have on a child. The child will often develop a feeling of low self-esteem due to the constant attack on their sense of status and identity.
KidsHealth.org recommends that parents should always have open communication with their child about bullying and to the child that being bullied, that it is not their fault and they aren’t alone. Teach them to tell a trusted adult at school and stand up to the bully by simply telling them to stop and walk away. If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, limit their access to technology and be aware of how they spend their time online.
Suffolk Stop Bullying emphasizes that if your child is a witness of bullying, it is important they know to not be a bystander.
Know who your child is. The better you know their personality, the better you can address their situation and help offer a solution.
Local Anti-Bullying Efforts
Bullying is, unfortunately, a problem that has not escaped the hallways of Long Island schools. However, there are plenty of organizations devoted to raising awareness and combating the issue specifically around the Island.
The Long Island Coalition Against Bullying
LICAB’s mission is “emphasizing the importance of bully free communities on Long Island through education, increased awareness and therapeutic outlets.” The organization offers care packages, financial assistance to those seeking therapy, works with schools to create anti-bullying programs and assemblies, and has both a youth leadership program and a peer mentoring program. To learn more, visit licab.org.
Long Island Crisis Center
This not-for-profit agency has been around since 1971 and operates as a 24/7 crisis intervention hotline. Along with its around-the-clock call service, the LICC offers opportunities to volunteer as a hotline responder and offers free workshops about everything from LGBT acceptance to the warning signs of eating disorders. Visit longislandcrisiscenter.org.
Long Island based, BiasHELP offers their programs and services locally, regionally and nationally. Their goal is to prevent bias crimes, hate-related harassment, bullying and discrimination. Visit biashelp.org.
Child Abuse Prevention Center
Another nonprofit organization based on Long Island, CAPS is dedicated to preventing bullying and child abuse. The group offers kids workshops for every grade level and informational workshops for parents. There are also helplines that those in need of guidance can confidentially email. Visit capsli.org, which offers an abundance of additional resources and helpful information about bullying.
Sunshine Prevention Center
Located in Port Jefferson Station, SPC offers children, teen and adult programs dealing with topics such as building healthy friendships, peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, and anger management. The center also has youth camps during the summer. Visit sunshinepreventionctr.org.