National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month; a campaign that aims to unite communities to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Bullying impacts thousands of young people in school, in their neighborhoods and even at home through cyber bullying. Bullying can include physical, verbal, social and cyber bullying and all forms of bullying have a serious impact on mental health that can follow children into adulthood.

Children who are bullied are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety and can experience increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they typically enjoy. Other impacts from bullying can also include decreased academic performance, low self-esteem and health complaints. The most common anxiety disorders from bullying include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks, and social anxiety disorder. These issues may persist into adulthood or manifest themselves years later.

Bullying impacts more than the person being bullied. Anyone who is a bully, is bullied or even witnesses bullying can experience mental health challenges. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) research studies show that “anyone involved with bullying—those who bully others, those who are bullied, and those who bully and are bullied—are at increased risk for depression.”

Bullying doesn’t exclusively take place in person anymore. With more young people using the internet and social media, some forms are harder for adults to detect. According to Stopbullying.gov, “cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.”

NICHD-funded research studies also found that unlike traditional forms of bullying, youth who are bullied electronically—such as by computer or cell phone—are at higher risk for depression than the youth who bully them.

All forms of bullying should be taken seriously, and everyone in the community has a role to play in prevention. Stopbullying.gov explains that “parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.”

Communities can help prevent bullying by teaching people, especially children, not to be passive bystanders and instead stand up for their peers. Adults can support children who are being bullied by listening to them, giving them a safe space to talk about what’s going on, discouraging bullying behavior when they see it and not making the child feel like the bullying is their fault.

Sources:

https://www.stopbullying.gov/

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/bullying/conditioninfo/health

https://www.talkspace.com/blog/bullying-mental-health-effects/

 

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