For many, growing up and being bullied had been viewed as a “rite of passage” that helped to “toughen kids up.” However, coming to light more and more is the devastating and long-term effects bullying can have on kids. The loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression are just some of the issues presented most often for those involved whether they are the ones being bullied, are bullying, or who witness the bullying. According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying nationwide. Bullying can be social, verbal or physical with most frequent happenings occurring in schools. Currently, Florida has both a policy and law against bullying, but that does not mean it still does not happen. In working towards eliminating bullying know some of the signs that someone is being bullied:
Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
Feeling sick/faking illness
Changes in eating habits-skipping meals or binge eating
Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
You can also play a part in helping to prevent bullying. If you work within the schools encourage activities that teach students about bullying, know what programs are available for those who are faced with bullying, and help other staff be trained in prevention as well. Even those who do not work within the school systems can help educate and become part of a cause to aid in prevention just by supporting individuals regardless of the type of endured bullying, addressing the bullying behavior when it arises and being a role model. Although October is Bullying Prevention Month, know that all year long we should be engaging in helping to stop bullying behaviors whether its with the bullies, victims, or bystanders. Kids often will not ask for help when it comes to these situations where statistics from the Indicators of School Crime and Safety (2012) show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. If you or someone you know is being bullied know that counseling services are available to help.
You can find out about the services Southwest Florida Counseling Center has to offer, visit www.swfcc.net. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Judy Steele at 941-391-1067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.