Written by Michele Wheat
Bullying can come in many different forms. Sometimes, mean kids bother others on the playground, on the bus, or in the halls at school. You might run into a bully in the lunchroom or in a quiet corner of the library. Bullies also are mean to people online on social media sites, in email, and in text messages. But no one is allowed to bully others at any time or in any place. If you have a problem with a bully or you see someone else struggling with one, always tell an adult to get help. Teachers, parents, and other adults will step in to stop the abuse.
Bullying has become a problem for kids throughout the United States and even around the world. Bullying might involve making fun of someone, calling them names, threatening them, or spreading rumors. Bullying can also involve shoving, pushing, or tripping someone. Sometimes bullying happens by excluding a person from activities or by forcing someone to do something they don't want to do. Bullying might also involve destroying someone else's property.
About one in every four kids at school has reported being bullied. Experts estimate that about one out of every seven kids in any of the school grades is either a bullying victim or a bully. Schools that have a big problem with bullying seem to have students that don't perform as well. These schools may score as much as 6 percent lower academically than schools with less bullying. Only 36 percent of kids who have been bullied have reported it. This means that 64 percent of kids who struggled with a bully decided not to report it to an adult. In more than half of the bullying situations that happen between kids, if another kid steps in to help the one being bullied, the bully will stop. Boys are slightly more likely to bully others than girls. Usually, boys will be bullied only by other boys, but girls might be bullied by both girls and boys.
When someone is bullied, a lot of unpleasant things might happen. Kids who are bullied tend to have trouble with their schoolwork, and their grades might go down. Kids might also feel anxious and nervous, and sometimes, they have trouble sleeping. Sadness, loneliness, and depression are other effects of bullying. Sometimes it gets hard to stay involved with activities and interests, and kids might stop wanting to spend time with friends and family. All of these effects can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches.
Cyberbullying is another type of bullying. With this type of abuse, the bully will use electronics to threaten or bother someone else. Cyberbullying can happen on a computer or on mobile devices, and it might happen on websites, on chat forums, by email, or by text message. Sometimes a cyberbully will tease, call names, spread rumors, or share damaging pictures. Cyberbullying happens mostly with middle school and high school kids. Statistics vary, but as many as 52 percent of students could be victims of cyberbullying.
Awareness and prevention of bullying are two effective ways to fight back. Educating students about bullying, what it is, and how it hurts is one of the first steps to combat it. Kids also need to know that many times, they have the power to stop bullying. Staying silent about bullying will only make it worse. If a bully bothers you, you can do some things that might stop the bully. Stand up straight, look the bully in the eyes, and tell the bully to stop in a calm and clear voice. There may be times when you feel scared and unsafe. In these situations, walk away and get to a safer place right away. Find an adult right away to report what happened. Anytime you see someone bullying someone else, stick up for the victim. A lot of times, just stepping in to tell a bully to stop for someone else is enough to get the bully to go away.
Many schools are promoting their anti-bullying prevention and awareness campaigns by handing out silicone wristbands with messages to unify the students against bullying.