As Girl Scouts, we are dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which brings communities together across the nation to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Studies show that 1 in 4 U.S. students have been bullied at school, and 71% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. So how do you know when someone is being bullied, and how do you stop it?
What We Know
Bullying is defined by the Center for Disease Control and Department of Education as “unwanted aggressive behavior; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition.” These types of behaviors can happen in any number of places, contexts, or locations, including at school or even online. Electronic bullying, or cyberbullying, typically occurs using phones, email, instant messaging, and online posts. Types of bullying can include:
- Name calling
- Spreading rumors or lies
- Pushing, hitting, or kicking
- Leaving out
- Stealing belongings
Bullying affects everyone, including those who are bullied, those who bully others, and those who see bullying going on. Individuals that are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and decreased academic achievement and school participation.
What We Can Do
It’s easy to see that bullying does harm to everyone involved. So now that we know what bullying looks like, what exactly can we do to stop it?
- Speak up! Although it might feel uncomfortable to intervene, saying something as simple as “this isn’t cool or funny,” or “stop treating her like that,” to a bully is often enough to stop them in their tracks. If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, you can opt to laugh it off or simply walk away.
- Be a friend. It is important to support whoever is being bullied by letting them know you don’t agree with what is being said, and that you will help to keep it from happening again. Act as a positive role model for others by treating everyone with kindness and respect.
- Tell an adult. Sometimes walking away or avoiding a bully isn’t enough, and it is important that an authority figure is aware of the situation to keep it from happening again.
- Take action. Talk to your teacher or principal about getting involved at school. Start a safety committee, make posters about bullying, plan an informational skit, or discuss customizing your school’s anti-bullying policy.
Practice creating a community of respect this Friday, October 5, for National Do Something Nice Day. Whether that mean including someone by inviting them to eat lunch with you or making a new friend in class, every action you take can build a more positive environment for yourself and the world around you.