For years I’ve been a medical consultant for HealthTeacher.com. Recently they published a very helpful article on “Banishing Bullies.” I hope that readers who are parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, and others who love and care for children will find this information helpful.
This time last year, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince was getting ready to start high school in South Hadley, Mass.
Today, as her classmates prepare for their sophomore year, her family and friends mourn their loss. One January afternoon, after enduring three months of relentless torment at school and online, Phoebe came home from school and committed suicide. The circumstances were horrible, but the truth is Phoebe’s story has helped shine the spotlight on this serious issue.
The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that up to 25 percent of American students are bullied sometimes or more often.
Even more shocking, 15 percent to 20 percent of students admit that they bully others with some frequency.
Jonathan Cohen, president of the Center for Social and Emotional Education, says more than 160,000 American students stay home from school on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied.
But as the prevalence of online bullying grows, many of them aren’t safe at home, either.
Cohen estimates one in three teenagers feel threatened online and that more than 60 percent of teens have participated in online bullying.
Not only is bullying prevalent, it can also have serious consequences for everyone involved, Cohen says.
“Over the last 20 years, a growing body of research underscores the fact that bullying is toxic, not just for the victim and the bully, but for the witness as well,” he says.
“Bullying undermines the ability for children in grades K-12 to learn and develop in healthy ways.”
The Wrong Way to Banish Bullying
Cohen, whose organization includes a bullying awareness program called BullyBust, http://schoolclimate.org/bullybust says most efforts to banish bullying in schools are ineffective over the long-term.
“A typical bullying-prevention practice involves identifying and punishing the bully, and that’s it,” he says.
“But that does not actually reduce bully behavior. In fact, it can exacerbate the problem because we’re not addressing the underlying problems that are resulting in bully behavior. Protecting the target is an essential first step in a bullying-prevention strategy, but that alone will not prevent bullying.”
You can read some of my other posts on bullying: