This week, SchoolKidz decided to unite with its sister company Kits for Kidz and join the fight against bullying. A 2011 nationwide study found that bullying is a common occurrence in the United States and that over 40% of teachers and school staff consider it to be a major problem in their school. As we specialize in providing schools with pre-packaged school supply kits and our main interaction is often with school staff as well as parent groups, this topic hit close to home. Several of us here have kids and although we may have had our own brush with bullies in our youth, that does not mean we want the same for our children.
Many believe that to be bullied you have to be physically attacked but in reality that is just one of the several ways kids are often harassed, and not necessarily the most harmful. www.stopbullying.gov defines bullying as, “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” This aggressive behavior can consist of making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, excluding someone from a group on purpose, and harassing someone via the Internet. We usually see these actions repeated, or they have the potential to be repeated over time.
The teasing and name calling that we so frequently see happen between kids is far from harmless. One of the most common forms of bullying within school-aged children is actually verbal, with Internet harassment close behind. Verbal abuse consists of making threats, name calling, teasing, taunting, spreading rumors, and making inappropriate comments. Attacks like the ones just mentioned can at times cause the most harm to a child. These attacks can be very damaging to a child’s self-esteem, confidence, social skills, and their overall identity. It can lead children down a very discouraging path where they are troubled by how they see themselves and how they believe others perceive them. Furthermore, verbal abuse is often a gateway to other forms of bullying such as online harassment, exclusion and physical attacks.
This abuse is most frequently happening inside schools, in playgrounds, on a bus, and most recently on the Internet. Nowadays, everyone including our children is online and all over social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snap Chat to name a few. The downside to social media in regards to bullying is that anyone can make a post; you have an unlimited and instant access to viewers; and taking things down can prove to be hard. In recent years we have seen a rise in the number of kids taking to the Internet to post mean comments and inappropriate pictures. By time someone has caught on to the cruel act, several have already seen it and even worse, they’ve made additional mean comments.
The question now is how do we stop bullying? Unfortunately, there is not one magical solution that will put an immediate end to all this unnecessary aggression. However, there are many wonderful organizations out there that are really helping to raise awareness on the issue. Secret Deodorant has recently started a Mean Stinks campaign against bullying. Lots of people have gone onto their site to share their opinion on the subject and to take a stand against bullies by taking the Blue Pinky Promise. Several other campaigns like Stomp Out Bullying and The Bully Project have also done a wonderful job at raising awareness, sharing information, and providing support.
We may not be the ones in school getting bullied but as parents we can help. There are several conversations we need to have with our kids to not only let them know bullying is wrong but to give them the trust they need to come forward and speak up if they’re being harassed. Often, kids keep the abuse to themselves out of fear of being ridiculed further or thinking a parent won’t consider the abuse a problem. We need to give them the confidence to come to us with these issues so that we can bring it to the attention of a school official or even the authorities. Most importantly, we need to inform ourselves so that we know what signs to look for in case our child needs help. For generations bullying has plagued our schools, it’s time we united to put an end to it.
For more information on bullying please visit http://www.stopbullying.gov.