We have all witnessed the tragic endings bullying can cause in the past several years through media reports. Some children have been abused at the schools they attend for education, while others, particularly teens, have been bullied online. Some have committed suicide. Bullying has become a real and growing problem in our country, and we must all work together to put an end to this sad epidemic. October is National Bullying Prevention Month; at Grabel & Associates, we wanted to do our part to further educated you on bullying in our nation’s school, and online (cyberbullying).
First of all, what is bullying? It is any aggressive behavior that occurs repeatedly and is unwanted by the child being bullied, and involves a power imbalance that is real or perceived. A verbal or physical attack, threats, purposely excluding the victim from a group, spreading vicious or ugly rumors – these are all examples of bullying. Notice that we said the “child being bullied” above. It is important that children who are bullied are not labeled as “victims,” as labels can result in other undesirable consequences. At Stopbullying.gov, it is recommended that society not focus on labels for who did the bullying, who assisted, or who the victim is, but instead on the behavior.
It’s also important to note that there may be many children involved in bullying other than the primary perpetrator, and the child being bullied. These include children who assist or reinforce, outsiders who stand by the sidelines and may want to help but don’t know how, and children who defend, attempting to give the child who is being bullied comfort.
Because this month is National Bullying Prevention Month, it’s important that we all work together to support efforts against bullying. How can you get involved? Hold community meetings and discuss the issue, including prevention measures and possible local activities for children. Parents can educate their children about bullying, and encourage them to talk about anything they know about that is going on at school, or online. Awareness and education are key in resolving the issue in Michigan, and across the country.
Pacer.org provides information regarding events, activities, and education across the country, and also allows schools and organizations to show their support against bullying by participating in Run, Walk, Roll events and other community events. Schools can sign up for a Bullying Prevention newsletter, register as a Champion Against Bullying. and more. Ultimately, it is vital to educate everyone in communities not only in Michigan but across the nation, inspiring families and individuals to get involved in the fight against bullying.
In Michigan, there is a state law known as Matt’s Safe Schools Law that governs bullying, Michigan Compiled Laws §380.1310b. Bullying may also be considered a civil rights violation in certain situations. School districts can find a state model policy which will help in creating anti-bullying policies at the Michigan Department of Education website.
Cyberbullying has become a real and growing problem due to the growing popularity of social media, and the number of children/teens who go online to sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and others. We encourage readers of this article to learn more by visiting our web page and reading the article Cyberbullying: The New Online Crime.
Bullying of any sort can result in depression and even suicide, not only in those who are bullied, but those who participate in the bullying. Let’s all do our part and work together to bring an end to this disturbing trend.