October is National bullying prevention month. Joan Reubens is the Bullying Prevention Coordinator for Pinellas County Schools and she joins us to talk about what’s happening to stop it.
What is bullying: Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. According to stopbullying.gov.
Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.
Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.
Who is at risk: No single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied or bullying others. Bullying can happen anywhere-cities, suburbs, or rural towns. Depending on the environment, some groups-such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered LGBT youth, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youth -may be at an increased risk of being bullied.
Prevention: Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can:
· Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help;
· Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns;
· Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior;
· Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
Responding to bullying: When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep kids safe, such as:
· Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help;
· Separate the kids involved;
· Make sure everyone is safe;
· Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs;
· Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders;
· Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
HASHTAG OPPORTUNITY: The LiveFree! Coalition is urging the community to post to their social media profiles a sign with #UPstander to show that they don’t stand for bullying; they stand up to it!