take bullying seriously

Too many children are being emotionally or physically injured because of bullying. It’s time to take a stand and do something about it.

Here are some common myths about bullying we can lay to rest for good:

Myth: Bullying does not cause any serious harm.

Fact: Bullying is associated with a range of physical and mental health problems, as well as suicide, educational problems, antisocial problems, and relationship problems.

  • Victimized children are more likely to report anxiety and depressive symptoms than children uninvolved in bullying. Of greatest concern is the fact that psychiatric problems associated with involvement in bullying tend to persist into later life.
  • A high risk of suicidal ideation (having thoughts of suicide) is found among children who are bullied, who bully others, and who are involved in both roles.
  • Both victimized children and children who bully are at risk for poor school functioning, in terms of poor attitudes towards school, low grades, and absenteeism.
  • 20-25% of frequently victimized children report bullying as the reason for missing.
  • Youth who bully others are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and are at risk for later criminality. For example, 60% of boys who bully others in elementary school had criminal records by age 24.

Solution: It is essential to identify children at risk for bullying and/or victimization and to provide support for their development in order to prevent the negative consequences associated with this type of disrespectful peer relationship.

Myth: Children grow out of bullying.

Fact: Without intervention, a significant proportion of youth who bully others in childhood will continue to use their power negatively through adolescence and into adulthood. From early adolescence, new forms of aggression, carried out from a position of power, emerge. Over time, these new forms of aggression are carried forward into different relationships and environments. The destructive lessons learned in childhood about the use of power may translate into sexual harassment in the workplace, dating violence, marital abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse.

Solution: Early identification and intervention of bullying will prevent patterns of aggressive interactions from forming. Adults must be aware that bullying changes with age and may become more difficult to detect.

Kids react to bullying and give advice about what to do when other’s see bullying happening at school or online.

Myth: Only a small number of children have problems with bullying.

Fact: Approximately 12% of girls and 18% of boys reported bullying others at least twice in previous months, whereas 15% of girls and 18% of boys reported being victimized at least twice over the same time period. These figures suggest that in a classroom of 35 students, between 4 and 6 children are bullying and/or are being bullied. Many more children observe bullying and know that it is going on. At some point, the majority of children will engage in some form of bullying and experience some form of victimization. A small minority of children will have frequent, long-lasting, serious, and pervasive involvement in bullying and/or victimization.

Solution: To ensure that children have healthy and productive relationships, it is important to include all children, regardless of their involvement in bullying, in bullying prevention programs. This means that programs and strategies must address the needs and provide the necessary support for children who are victimized, children who bully others, and children who watch bullying occur.

Myth: Reporting bullying will only make the problem worse

Fact: Given the power imbalance that exists between the child who bullies and the child who is victimized, it is incredibly difficult for children who are being victimized to remove themselves from this destructive relationship. They make numerous attempts to make the bullying stop on their own but these efforts are usually unsuccessful and may make the bullying worse. Adult intervention is required to correct the power imbalance. We do know that victimized children who told an adult about being bullied reported being less victimized the following year compared to children who did not report being bullied. When no one talks about bullying, children who bully feel they can carry on without consequences.

Solution: Children need to be encouraged to report bullying and be given multiple strategies to make these reports. Adults must convey the message that they want to know about children’s experiences and that it is their job to make the bullying stop.