October: National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Do you know that one in five teenagers report being bullied? Do you understand what bullying is?

The website stopbullying.gov explains that bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated over time. To be bullying the action must be aggressive and repetitive with that power imbalance, or one person believing they are superior while the other is perceived to be weak and inferior. Bullying is:

Using threats to intimidate a victim;

Spreading rumors about the victim;

Physically or verbally attacking someone and purposefully excluding someone from a group.

There are three forms of bullying.

If you tease, call someone names, say something to provoke someone to react to insults or threaten some form of harm that is verbal bullying.

Social bullying is when you leave someone out on purpose because you don’t want them around, telling friends not to associate with someone you don’t like, saying bad things about them or embarrassing them in public with the intention of hurting them, making them feel inferior and worthless.

Physical bullying is the third type and involves hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, tripping, punching, destroying their belongings.

Bullying can happen anywhere, to anyone. And though you may be the bully today, somewhere down the line you may have the misfortune of coming face-to-face with your own nightmare bully. You might want to take a moment or two to think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed, if someone bigger and tougher than you began to use intimidation, manipulation and aggression to bully you.

Aggressive behavior is something a little different than bullying, though they do share some similarities. Aggressive behavior is found in peer conflict, teen dating violence, hazing, harassment and stalking, explains stopbullying.gov. Aggressive behavior creates a hostile environment. How does a hostile environment give one an opportunity to be who he or she wants to be? Bullying prevents free expression of the self and perhaps makes one feel unsafe.

What can you do to prevent bullying?

Help kids to understand what bullying is. Talk about ways to deal with bullying and how to get help. Encourage your children to talk to an adult they trust when bullying is an issue for them or someone else they know. Teach your children – through your own words and actions – to help those who are bullied. Keep a dialogue going between your children and yourself, asking how their day was, what they had for lunch, who they sat with and what they talked about. Get to the discussion of bullying because it is important for children to know where you stand on bullying: Zero tolerance.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.