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Consider long-term effects of bullying

Did you know that one out of every four students report being bullied during the school year?  October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and schools throughout the region are working extra this month to ensure a safe space for students inside and outside of the schools. Counselors and social workers at the schools say bullying is a year-round topic of conversation, but most are focusing even more this month to teach kids to be kind and stand up for one another.  According to statistics, school-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25 percent.  And as we all know, bullying doesn’t just happen at school anymore. On the bus, on the playground and online are actually the hot spots — especially online.  

The cyber world has taken bullying to an all new level. No longer is bullying limited to shoving on the playground or name calling on the bus. With the stroke of a couple keys and one click, a hurtful message can be sent into cyberspace that can never be erased.  And not only is it witnessed by a couple kids, but now that bullying message is seen by kids in other school districts and other states even. The effects are much more far reaching than ever before. Home is no longer their safe zone.  Nearly 15 percent of high school students in the United States report being bullied online in the past year.  Bullying can have detrimental effects for years, or even lifelong. Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and poor school adjustment.  

There’s a reason kids are doing the bullying, and face future problems themselves.  Students who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems and violence later in adolescence and adulthood.  Thankfully though, studies also show that the work these schools are putting into teaching our children about kindness and anti-bullying tactics are working.  More than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied.

 Ask your kids about the efforts schools are making this month — and all year — regarding bullying. Some of the districts are even sending items home for kids to share with their parents or guardians. Get involved and support the schools.  Throughout this month, the schools are not only not giving lessons, but they are also planning fun events, having guest speakers, creating projects like anti-bullying chains and giving trees and signing pledges to stop bullying in their schools.  Support your kids. Support the schools’ efforts. And support the effort to stop bullying.