The National Center for School Engagement reports that 16,000 students skip school every day to avoid the negative experiences caused by bullying. Bullying is a cancer on all that are involved and we need to be proactive when working to eliminate and prevent occurrences.
Bullying has wide ranging negative effects. Not only do bullying targets experience high levels of depression and anxiety, increased levels of sadness or loneliness, or poor school performance; bullies, bystanders, and the overall school culture will suffer as well.
Bullies themselves risk higher incidents of violent confrontations. They are also more likely to leave school early. Bystanders tend to have higher instances of drug, tobacco, and alcohol abuse.
Schools that take a passive approach to dealing with bullying find that students are less engaged and feel teachers and administrators lack school control. Cultivating a culture that prevents bullying is in the best interest of all involved.
So how can school nurture a bully-free environment?
Talk with your children about bullying.
Intentionally communicating what bullying is and why it should not be tolerated sets the foundation for students. Students need to understand when play and teasing crosses the line so that they are expressly aware of how their behavior impacts others. Parents and community members must be educated to understand what behaviors in the home lead to bullying and how they can help their students develop social skills that will add to a healthy school atmosphere.
Role playing gives children a practical example to grapple with – both as the bully and target. Use this opportunity as a teachable moment to help them empathize with other students who may be targets of bullies. This will also be a great time to develop a plan of action for your child if they are forced to endure a bully’s taunts.
Help kids develop healthy sense of self-worth.
Bullies often target children who lack self-confidence. Enrolling children in after school activities according to their interests and abilities can help them develop confidence in their abilities, make friends, and experience the joy of overcoming challenges. These are all essential ingredients that help children learn to stand up for themselves during times of pressure.
Help them grow through responsibilities.
Chores and responsibilities aid in a child’s development by giving them a sense of ownership. It also keeps children engaged in constructive activities. Whether their job is keeping the lawn tidy or walking the family pet, these tasks can help mature your child. Mature children are less susceptible to the whims of immaturity that can show up in the form of bullying.
Children are largely a product of their environment. By helping them understand how their behavior leads to bullying or how they can stand up for themselves in the face of a bully, we can prevent these behavior patterns. Whether you child is a target, the bully, or simple a witness; it’s best for all when bullying is eliminated and children can feel safe to thrive in an environment that is safe and fosters acceptance for all.
Megan Scott is a writer and mother of two beautiful twins. She wants to use her knowledge and expertise to help others lead a better life. Her hobbies include writing, long distance running and travelling with her beloved family. Follow her on twitter as @meganscotts