What is bullying?
Bullying can be defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
The following definitions are defined in the Oklahoma School Security Act to help recognize bullying behavior:
“Harassment, intimidation, and bullying means any gesture, written or verbal expression, electronic communication, or physical act that a reasonable person should know will harm another student, damage another student’s property, place another student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or damage to the student’s property, or insult or demean any student or group of students in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school’s educational mission or the education of any student.”
“Threatening behavior means any pattern of behavior or isolated action, whether or not it is directed at another person, that a reasonable person would believe indicates potential for future harm to students, school personnel, or school property.”
Bullying has a negative effect on the social environment of schools, creates a climate of fear among students, inhibits the ability to learn, and leads to other antisocial behavior. Other detrimental effects of bullying include impact on school safety, student engagement, and the overall school environment. Oklahoma state law declares that any form, type, or level of bullying is prohibited, and that every incident of behavior that may constitute bullying should be taken seriously by school administrators, school staff (including teachers), students, and parents.
Bullying has serious and lasting effects. Research has found bullying behavior causes increased mental health problems, increased thoughts of suicide, retaliation through extremely violent measures, decreased academic achievement, higher risk of abusing alcohol and other drugs, and truancy.
What are the warning signs of bullying?
There are many warning signs that could indicate that a student is involved in bullying, either by bullying others or by being bullied. However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well. Below is a list of common signs:
How to Talk About Bullying
Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can:
Help Kids Understand Bullying
Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Research tells us that children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem. Start conversations about daily life and feelings with questions like these:
Encourage Kids to Do What They Love
Help kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. Kids can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect kids from bullying.
Model How to Treat Others with Kindness and Respect
Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.
If you or someone you know is being bullied please be sure to report it to your school. You can report it to your child’s teacher, principal, or counselor, or there is a form on your school’s website under Counselor’s Corner tab you may submit.