The start of a new school year is the appropriate time to discuss a problem that negatively impacts all youth involved: bullying.
While the magnitude and types of bullying can vary across communities and demographic groups, bullying is widespread in the United States. It impacts those who are bullied, those who bully others and bystanders. Angelina County schools are not immune to the issue; to believe otherwise is foolish.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detail just how widespread:
■ Bullying is common. 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property in the last year.
■ Bullying is frequent. Bullying is among the most commonly reported discipline problems in public schools. Nearly 12% of public schools report that bullying happens at least once a week. Reports of bullying are highest for middle schools (22%) compared to high schools (15%), combined schools (11%), and primary schools (8%).
■ Bullying can happen online. More than 15% of high school students report being cyberbullied in the last year.
However, when adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. Parents, school staff and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment and creating a communitywide prevention strategy.
The website stopbullying.org, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers some warning signs of kids who are being bullied. They may:
■ Come home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
■ Report losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
■ Have unexplained injuries
■ Complain frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or feeling sick
■ Have trouble sleeping or have frequent bad dreams
■ Have changes in eating habits or be very hungry after school from not eating lunch
■ Hurt themselves
■ Run away from home
■ Lose interest in visiting or talking with friends
■ Be afraid of going to school or other activities with peers
■ Lose interest in school, work or begin to do poorly in school
■ Appear sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home
■ Talk about suicide
■ Feel helpless
■ Often feel like they are not good enough
■ Blame themselves for their problems
■ Suddenly have fewer friends
■ Avoid certain places
■ Act differently than usual
And children who are bullying others may:
■ Become violent with others
■ Get into physical or verbal fights with others
■ Get sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot
■ Have extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
■ Be quick to blame others
■ Refuse to accept responsibility for their actions
■ Have friends who bully others
■ Need to win or be best at everything
Everyone needs to be on the lookout for victims of bullies, in both the real world and on the internet. A child deserves that from the adults in their life.