October is Bullying Prevention Month
Why do we dedicate the entire month of October to raising awareness of the dangers of bullying and how to prevent them? Because bullying is a BIG deal, and prevention programs go a long way in helping stop it. About 20% of students between the ages of 12-18 have experienced bullying in the US, whether that be in school, online, or elsewhere. That’s a LOT of people.
If you haven’t experienced bullying firsthand, someone you know well probably has, and sadly a lot of victims are afraid to speak out. That fear is exactly why we come together in the month of October to speak out for them. So what can you do this October to help?
Because of initiatives like National Bullying Prevention Month, awareness about bullying has come a long way, which means we have tons of resources out there to help us learn about this complex problem, how it shows up in our daily lives, and what we can do about it when it does. Check out sites like The Pacer Center and stopbullying.gov, and read articles on bullying. We have a wealth of articles on bullying on TheHopeLine, and you can also check out PsychologyToday or VeryWellFamily. Knowing the facts about how prevalent bullying is, the psychological effects it can have on victims, how bullies work, and what your rights are when you’ve been bullied can set you up for success in case you ever encounter a bullying situation.
Speak Up for Yourself
Now that you understand bullying a little better, it’s time to take a look at your own life. If you think you may be getting bullied, know your rights! Lots of schools and states have strict rules in place to protect you from bullying, separate you from your bully, support you in your situation, and put an end to the negative interactions you’ve been having. You are not alone, and even if the first adult you talk to about your bullies doesn’t know what to do, it’s important that you understand your rights and fight for them. Nobody deserves to be bullied, and that includes you! If you think you may be the bully, take this helpful quiz to determine if that’s the case. If it turns out that you may have been treating people poorly, and you want to change, there are a couple of things you can do. First, look above and click on the link to make sure you’re aware of the rights that the victims of bullying have. You need to be familiar with those so that you understand whether you’re at risk of getting in trouble with your school or the law. Second, reach out to a trusted adult or a Hope Coach and come forward about your behavior. Together you can create a plan for moving forward in a healthier, kinder way.
Speak Up for Others
About 57% of students who are bullied never report it. Maybe they’re afraid. Maybe they’re embarrassed. Maybe their self-esteem is so low they don’t think they deserve help. Maybe they don’t believe anyone can help them. That’s where your advocacy can come in.
You can make a difference in someone’s life just by paying attention to what’s going on around you and calling out anything that doesn’t seem right. Too often, victims of bullying feel too ashamed or afraid to tell anyone about their situation, or sometimes, they’ve tried to put an end to it, only to receive inadequate support or encounter a new bully not long after the old one is gone. You can help simply by making sure you notice when someone seems a little too quiet, alone most of the time, or often being heckled by the same group of kids. Befriending them, asking them if they’re okay, or speaking with a trusted adult, could be all you need to do in order to change their lives.
If you don’t believe that you really have the power to disarm a bully or help someone, just take a look at some of these anonymous stories from victims who appreciated finding a friend.
January 5, 2021
“I’ve been bullied a ton as a kid, probably starting from the first grade for multiple reasons such as my ethnicity, my physical appearance, the food I eat, the way I talk, etc. People found anything to criticize about. I never had friends or people to talk to, because the only form of social interaction was the harmful words that came out from my peers. I never realized how insecure I’ve become since then until I was in the 7th grade and developed a severe anxiety disorder and depression. Even up to now, nothing has changed about my mental illnesses but it really sucked that some people had to make my childhood environment so painful. Things add up bit by bit, you don’t realize it but eventually, it piles up to a point that it breaks you apart. I’m about to graduate high school and I sometimes think about how different I could have been if some people didn’t bully/harass me for me just being myself back then. Giving some advice, especially to the younger ones out there: if you really think someone is being targeted for bullying, I sincerely ask you to do anything to help them because they might just need emotional support.”
April 16, 2021
“hi kids at the age of 11 this boy antonio was getting bullied he could not hear or see in 1 eye. so these boys were picking on him and i said stop and one boy said what is this your boyfriend? i said no but im his friend and they all started to pick on us just because we were friends. and it was this one day i told the teacher that they kept messing with us and they would call me a snitch and i just ignored them until they had got SUSPENDED. and my friend antonio could hear i was so happy and he told the teacher on them and said he was getting bullied a lot and he thanked me for even being his friend and thats why you should always be kind.”
May 5, 2021
“It all started in 5th grade because this was when I transferred schools. So I’ve always been an extroverted kid, and in 5th grade, I went to what I’ll just call stonewall intermediate. This school was known to be the best school district in my state but the problem was it had tons of spoiled kids. I was a good kid but would get in trouble a lot and got lunch detention and Friday night school often. but I never meant anything but they did ……the boys. but these boys bullied me for having a Samsung, being chubby, having acne, and calling me names. The bullies pointed out anything they could point out, and this was especially hard on me because I didn’t have any friends well close ones, and little by little I showed less and less emotion and became very introverted. I wish I had reached out for help sooner because in my freshmen year of high school I made a real friend and she helped me reach out to get them suspended for a few weeks luckily because my school had a strict bullying policy.”
All three of these stories show that anything from a simple act of kindness to an actual bond of friendship can change, or even save, the life of a person being bullied. Together, you have the power to report the problem and make sure that the bullying stops. So never underestimate the impact you can have, simply by asking a question, offering a smile, or sitting next to someone new on the bus. Or, if you’re being bullied, see these stories as proof that telling someone or reaching out for a friend’s help could actually work! You’re not alone, and there is hope.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
Make sure everyone at your school, your workplace, and your neighborhood knows that you won’t stand for bullying and neither should they.
- Check out the Pacer website for opportunities to participate in or volunteer for events.
- Ask your school administration to take a stand and observe National Bullying Prevention month by holding seminars, requiring classroom activities, and inviting Pacer experts to work with them to improve any bullying situations going on in your own hallways.
- Start an after-school club that can help keep the administration accountable for preventing bullying, and advocate with your local officials and state representatives to make or keep good anti-bullying laws and policies in place.
- Wear orange! Sure, somebody might assume that you’re wearing orange in October because you’re excited for Halloween or because you really wanted to match your Pumpkin Spice Latte… but if they ask about it, that’s another great opportunity to let them know that you’re part of a huge community of people that won’t ever let victims of bullying feel alone again. Plus, if someone is struggling with being bullied but afraid to come forward, that orange shirt may just let them know that you’re a safe person to talk to about it.
You Are Never Alone
We hope you know that you have a personal friend in us when it comes to bullying, too! We partner with Pacer because it is our duty as Christians to “defend the defenseless,” and National Bullying Prevention Month is a huge part of the work that needs to be done to create an awareness of the many ways bullies can hide in the shadows, hurt themselves and others, and leave a lasting mark on 20% of our country’s young people. So if you’re struggling with bullying, and you’re not sure what to do, reach out to a Hope Coach today. We can walk you through the resources available to you and provide you with a safe source of emotional support so that you never have to feel alone.
Want to know what to do if you are being bullied? Click here for five helpful tips. Step number one is “Do Not Fight Back!”
Always Believe in Yourself,