This morning, I watched a video on television of a young man in Erie being bullied. His “supposed” friends were shooting fireworks at him. I was appalled, as I hope everyone was who watched this video.
The unfortunate reality is that one out of every four students report being bullied during the school year and children with disabilities are 2-3 times more likely to be bullied that their peers without disabilities. Yes, these are startling statistics, but bullying continues to be an issue in our schools, community and online. So, what can we do?
- First, and most important, let’s teach kindness and acceptance in our home, school, and our community.
- Talk to our children, so that they understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is, how to stand up to it safely and how to get help.
- Keep lines of communication open. Check in with your children – know who their friends are and ask about school.
- Encourage children to do what they love. Activities, hobbies and interests can boost confidence and help children make friends.
- Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
There are also numerous resources online that you can share with your children to help them understand what to do if they see bullying occur. Some include:
- A series of fantastic cartoon videos designed for children to learn about bullying: https://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/webisodes
- A webpage designed for elementary school students to learn about bullying prevention and ways to take action: https://pacerkidsagainstbullying.org/
- Teens Against Bullying http://pacerteensagainstbullying.org
- Safe Schools’ Bullying Prevention Toolkits http://www.safeschools.info/bullying-prevention/bullying-prevention-resources
- “Project Connect” http://www.pacer.org/bullying/classroom/schoolwide/project-connect.asp
Although October is National Bullying Prevention Month, I believe, today, we as a community and a nation need to take a stand against bullying and make people aware of this unfortunate reality. Increased public awareness and education is critical to finding a solution.