National Bullying Awareness Month is something I can relate to. In my day bullying was just that bullying, calling people names, playing pranks, hazing, and fist fighting. The norm, but today it’s a whole new ballgame because of the Internet, and social media.
When you are abused as a child and live in a domestic violence home you don’t trust anyone, I didn’t want anyone to know, not even my grandparents. My mother was good at keeping the bruises hidden so no one would know. For this reason, I didn’t make many friends and was not very social.
When I was in 6th grade I was bullied to the extreme. The girls, about 4-6 people would follow me walking home. They normally stay a short distance behind me calling me names of all sorts. If the bullying wasn’t damaging to a 6th grader’s ego, one day two of the girls came up close behind me and hit me over the head with a coke bottle then started kicking me. It left a huge bump and it hurt but I didn’t cry until I got home.
The worst was the girl I lived next to when younger said to meet in her backyard for a fight. When I arrived there were at least 25 people there to watch me get my ass kicked. They all joined in calling me names and then out of nowhere she hit me upside the head, that was only the first blow. I knew if I got into a physical fight I would pay for it at home so I barely defended myself. After what seemed like forever it was over.
I knew better than to say something but I needed something for my head, it was bleeding. I told my mother and stepfather. Boy what a mistake, my alcoholic stepfather was tanked and went to kick the father’s ass. Oh boy, would I get more beatings for that at school? Luckily, he was too drunk to drive and that was the end of that. No compassion, no advice, nothing.
That was bullying then, today the landscape has changed and bullying hits you from any direction from faceless people. They are cowards, hiding behind the wall of the internet they troll you. From the news stories, I hear it can be relenting. I’ve known friends from WordPress who were hassled so bad they shut their site down and started over. I understand because someone started stalking me for seven months, even hacking my computer, it was frightening not only because of the fallout but were they nearby and watching me? That seven months took a toll on my health and I couldn’t go anywhere by myself for fear of being followed.
That is one way people bully you today. Don’t even get me started on social media. I have a very strong feeling about the role parents play in a child/teen’s life. I’m not going to get on my bandwagon but will say if parents aren’t monitoring their children’s Internet and phone activity, they are making a big mistake and doing their children no favors.
Here are some facts
Prevent Bullying Every Day
As reported on the 2019 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report, about 20% of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied in 2017. Among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text. National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month is a month-long observance to educate and raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying prevention. Addressing and preventing bullying is something that everyone can do, every day.
Address Bullying At School
Educators and teachers can create a safe, supportive learning environment and a classroom culture of positivity, inclusiveness and respect. They can reward students for positive social behavior. Schools can communicate bullying policies at their school to parents, students, teachers and staff and follow through on them. Monitoring bullying ‘hot spots’ around the school campus can also help prevent bullying.
Talk About Bullying At Home
Parents and caregivers can talk with their children about their school and digital life, and the many roles children can play in bullying. By asking open-ended questions, they can talk about their children’s experience and communicate expectations about appropriate behavior – in person and in their digital world. Parents are the primary role models for their children, and when they model the behavior they expect from their children, they teach through actions.
Youth who experience bullying can reach out to a trusted adult to talk about it and get support. If they’re being cyberbullied, they can capture screenshots. They can block the people who are bullying. If they witness bullying, they can change the conversation and deflect it. If they feel they can do it, they can stand up for the person being bullied, either on their own or with friends as a group. If they don’t feel safe doing that, they can reach out to the person being bullied to let them know that they don’t agree with it. If youth witness cyberbullying, they shouldn’t participate or share the posts or texts. They can learn more about how bystanders are essential to bullying prevention. They can also talk to a trusted adult for advice.
Check out these videos on how to handle different bullying situations.