I really enjoy September; you can feel fall in the air. Our leaves are turning colors, homecoming and Pumpkinfest are only a few weeks away, and our kids are settled back into their school routine.
But it’s important to remember that during this time of year, some kids would rather be anywhere than school because they are bullied or picked on. In fact, some studies say that nearly a third of all students aged 12 – 18 years old have reported being bullied at school, some almost daily.
- Bullying occurs more often in middle school (grades 6, 7, and 8) than in high school.
- The most prevalent type of bullying is emotional bullying; the second most prevalent type of bullying includes pushing, shoving, tripping, or spitting on someone.
- Middle school students, particularly sixth graders, were most likely to be bullied on the bus.
Regardless of whether our kids are in elementary school, middle school or high school, it is important we take some time to teach our kids how to avoid being bullied; helping them develop a strong sense of self is a great place to start.
Kids with low self-esteem are less likely to stick up for who they are, and they make prime targets for bullies looking to pick on someone they perceive as weak.
To improve self-esteem, experts say we should encourage kids to explore activities that make them feel good about themselves, activities like volunteering, playing sports, singing in a chorus, or joining a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect them from bullying.
Encouraging courageous behavior is another great way to help bully-proof children—teaching them to stand up for themselves as well as their peers and other friends. When groups of kids or teens stand together to put an end to a bullying situation, a bully is more likely to back off and less likely to bully again.
As adults, we should respond quickly and consistently to let bullies know their behavior will not be tolerated. Research shows this helps reduce and stop bullying from occurring. The website www.stopbullying.gov is a great resource for parents; it provides a number of tips to stop bullying, including:
Separate the kids involved.
Make sure everyone is safe.
Stay calm and model respectful behavior when you intervene.
Avoid these common mistakes:
Don’t ignore it.
Don’t assume kids can work it out without adult help.
Get police help or immediately if:
A weapon is involved.
There are threats of serious physical injury.
There are threats of hate-motivated violence, such as racism or homophobia.
There is serious bodily harm.
There is sexual abuse.
How can you tell if your child is the victim of bullying? If your child’s grades plummet, if he or she disconnects with friends, quits favorite activities, doesn’t want to go to school, or is suddenly “sick enough to stay home” much of the time; it’s time to ask them what’s going on.
Let your child know there is nothing too terrible to share with you, whether it’s drugs, sex, violence, or something else. Promise to listen to your child’s opinions with an open mind and come up with plans together to confront bullying. Nothing helps more than for kids to know someone cares about their struggles – and will work with them to find a solution.
Bullying affects kids in many ways: some lose sleep or feel sick; others want to skip school. A few will even consider suicide.
If you are teenager feeling hopeless or helpless or know someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They understand bullying, and are there to help those who are being bullied.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief