ABH Maryland

National Bullying Prevention Month: How To Watch For Bullying


National Bullying Prevention Month: How To Watch For Bullying

  • Children Mental Health
  • Mental Health

Bullying is not a new phenomenon, nor is it restricted to just the elementary school playground. With the rise of social media comes a sharp rise in cyberbullying by children and adults alike toward their peers and strangers, too.

When is Bullying Prevention Month?

Every October, organizations nationwide observe National Bullying Prevention Month. Also known as World Bullying Prevention Month, this fall month when school is freshly back in session in the United States is dedicated to reminding students, teachers, administrators, and parents of the signs of bullying and how to handle bullying away from school.

october is national bullying prevention month

Bullying Prevention Month was founded in October 2006 as just one awareness week hosted by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Now the month revolves around Unity Day, held on October 10, where people across the country wear orange to show support for bullied students everywhere.

Simply put, bullying is any intentional action that harms, intimidates, or coerces someone else. Bullying is aggressive and repetitive, often driving the recipient to depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or even death by suicide. A 2019 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed about 20% of high school students had been bullied on school property in the last year. 

There are three types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical. Teasing, taunting, spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public, hitting, and pushing are all forms of bullying.

The Effects of Bullying on Mental Health

On average, 1 in every 5 children are bullied. According to the CDC, children who are bullied are more likely to experience low self-esteem, isolation, perform poorly in school, have few friends, and experience both physical and mental health struggles.

Bullied children, teens, and young adults often show signs of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Even into adulthood, many bullying victims enjoy being alone and avoid social situations.

Minorities are often the target of bullying, especially the LGBTQ community. An overwhelming number of queer youth — 9 out of 10 — say they were bullied in school.

Bullying is a vicious disease that affects everyone it touches, including bystanders. Studies have shown students who witness bullying on the bus, in class, or in the hallways show increased anxiety and depression, even if they intervened in the bullying situation.

Even bullies themselves suffer from mental health issues associated with the intimidating behaviors. Bullies are at a higher risk of antisocial behaviors like substance abuse, aggressive behavior, and struggles at school. Whether it’s by older siblings or other children, many bullies are actually bully-victims who have been bullied themselves. While the behavior needs to be addressed and corrected immediately, it’s also important to remember the child’s needs, too.

How to Prevent Bullying

In 2006, the U.S. government rolled out StopBullying.gov to help create more awareness around the pervasiveness of bullying and publish resources to fight it at school and at home. The best bullying prevention is a mix of students, parents, teachers, and community members like law enforcement, religious organizations, and community action groups working together.

  • Help kids understand bullying. Education is the key to prevention, and teaching children what to look for as bullying behavior is crucial. Use October as an annual reason to talk to your students, faculty, and children about how to stand up to a bully, when to tell an adult, and how to stay safe from a physical bully.

  • Be a good role model. Bullying is often learned first at home. Instead of sarcastic jokes, focus on kindness and respect in front of children. Adults’ actions are always the best teachers for a child’s behavior.

  • Always be open for communication. Children look to reassuring adults for advice and help. Even a small conversation every week that reassures kids they can talk to you, someone at home, or someone at school can keep the lines of communication open. Start conversations with open-ended questions like “What was a good thing and a bad thing that happened at school today?” or “What is it like to ride the school bus?” that encourage storytelling and details.

  • The work starts at home. While educators are trained in how to handle bullying, many kids keep the aggressive treatment a secret from teachers and friends. If you see a change in your child, such as increased sadness, health complaints that keep them home from school, or a change in academic performance, talk to them about their friends and how they treat each other.

  • Encourage kids to pursue their passions. Many children are mocked for their hobbies and often give them up because of peer pressure. When possible, find group activities like sports, youth groups, and school clubs where like-minded friends can often be found.

Contact Us Today

Bullying can cause lifelong damage, and the effects and ripple long into adulthood. If you were bullied as a child, or if your child is a bully, being bullied, or affected by bullying, we can help. Contact us to set up an appointment with one of our licensed therapists.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.