October is bullying prevention month.
Bullying is a hot topic. When I work with my community to provide education about childhood adversity, I often am asked to provide information regarding bullying prevention.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
To bully is to act in an aggressive or threatening manner repeatedly toward someone.
For those who are bullied...
NORMAL VS ABNORMAL PEER AGGRESSION
Aggression toward peers certainly is not uncommon nor even abnormal. All humans develop an “us versus them” mentality that’s based on what is normal or abnormal in their world.
For example, a child whose experience of people is that everyone is able-bodied, might react negatively when he meets a person who uses a wheelchair or has a physical handicap.
As exposure to other communities increases, judgment and aggression toward others decreases, and empathy for them is fostered. Bullying happens when aggression remains and empathy is not built; when threats and physical, verbal, and psychological violence continue without regard to consequences. This is abnormal aggression. This is violence. Yes, bullying is violence.
People seem to struggle with ways to prevent or address bullying. While nothing is going to eliminate bullying totally, here are some ideas to get you started:
BULLYING IS A NEGATIVE LIFE EXPERIENCE
Negative or adverse childhood experiences create a host of problems and negative outcomes for children, most notably in the absence of positive social supports or intervention.
Those who are bullied can develop medical and mental health disorders, struggle academically and socially, and become victims of additional violence throughout life. Those who bully also may struggle academically and socially because of their focus on hurting others, have a greater risk of incurring legal trouble, and may have difficulty sustaining employment.
For more information about childhood adversity and it’s outcomes, check out my previous blog post about what everyone needs to know about childhood adversity.
What can you do now to contribute to anti-bullying efforts in your community, schools, or even your home? Choose one thing from the list above and put it into action this week. Or maybe you've had a great anti-bullying idea in your head that's not on the list above -- great! Put that into action this week.
Looking for additional ideas on creating positive supports for children? You can find that here.
- Erica L. Daniels, LPCC-S
Pediatric Mental Health Counselor
Child Counseling Place
Erica provides therapy in the Cincinnati area to children and adolescents who have experienced adverse events such as abuse, bullying, divorce, neglect, and more. Check out her website, childcounselingplace.com for more information.