EATON — Bullying is an issue that affects one out of every four students in America. It is defined simply as someone who hurts or scares another person repeatedly. The behavior is never appropriate and always intentional. It involves a real or perceived imbalance of power strength. It is a learned behavior and can be unlearned.
Understanding how and why a bully uses aggressive behavior is vital to knowing how to handle the situation. According to www.stompoutbullying.org, one common reason is the child bullying lacks attention from a parent at home and lashes out at others for attention. Those at most risk can include neglected children, children of divorced parents, or children with parents under the regular influence of drugs or alcohol.
Older siblings can also promote bullying behavior. If they have been bullied, they are more apt to bully a younger sibling to feel more secure. Additionally, an adult role model may also be a bully. This can include parents, teachers and coaches. Some adults may be angry and unable to handle conflict well.
Most bullies do not understand their behavior is hurtful and wrong. They typically lack empathy & foresight and have contempt for those they believe are weaker. They do not accept consequences for their actions and they crave power and attention. They have not learned kindness, compassion, or respect.
When bullies were asked why they do it, here is how some responded:
“It makes me feel stronger, smarter, or better than the person I am bullying”
“I am bullied at home”
“It’s what you do if you want to hang out with the right crowd.”
“I see others doing it.”
“I am jealous of the other person.”
“It is the only way to keep others from bullying me.”
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and its purpose is to address bullying and how it affects and isolates kids and their families. It is a very serious issue and can lead to more serious consequences.
The Board of Regents of the Ohio Department of Education, Governor John R. Kasich, and Richard A. Ross, Superintendent of Public Instruction have created guidelines for implementing Ohio’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying policy. The Ohio Department of Education does not decide student discipline in bullying incidents; however, “it does suggest schools work with community-based organizations to implement policy, review data, create a good school environment, develop and implement student action plans and promote positive behavior so all students feel safe.” Within this framework, students, parents, principals, and special designees work together to report, investigate, discuss outcomes and develop an action plan to prevent and cease bullying. This policy and much more can be found at www.saferschools.ohio.gov.
If you or someone you know is bullying or being bullied, please contact your local school guidance counselor, the Mental Health & Recovery Board and Samaritan Behavioral Health. There are a numerous tools and resources for families, schools and communities to prevent bullying. Everyone matters.
Elizabeth provides Community Outreach & Development for the PC Mental Health & Recovery Board.