A child’s school years are a time of learning, enrichment, and socialization. For some students, however, those years are marked by bullying and harassment. So, what constitutes “bullying?” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines bullying as, “Any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another young person or group of young people, who are not siblings or current dating partners, that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance, and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”
Bullying is a pervasive problem in schools. The CDC estimates roughly one in five high school students has been bullied on school property in the past year and one in six reported experiencing cyberbullying. Those numbers jump to 40% for high school students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBTQ+). Additionally, 30% of female high school students and 19% of males reported being bullied.
However, volunteers can play a role in preventing bullying. Here are some ways you can help.
The first step to understanding how to stop bullying is to learn who’s at risk. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages StopBullying.gov, a comprehensive anti-bullying website where you can learn how to identify the warning signs of bullying, learn about its effects, and find out how to prevent it. There are also resources you can review directly with teens to help them spot the risks, learn how to respond, and where to go for help. The Kids section includes an animated webinar series that teaches children how to spot and prevent bullying.
The age of name calling on the playground has evolved into something much more profound. Cyberbullying typically takes place over digital devices like mobile phones, computers, and tablets and on social media platforms. The damage from cyberbullying can sometimes be widespread and lasting as information posted online can quickly and easily be stored and shared.
One of the first things you can do to help combat bullying is to understand the laws in your area. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to communicate the dangers of bullying to your children, grandchildren or young people in your community. The CDC has created a package of information, action tips, and resources to help prevent bullying and youth violence.
There are also several ways in which to volunteer, such as working with schools to integrate anti-bullying content into their curricula, learning how to prevent and report cyberbullying, or by volunteering for a crisis or help line.
You can inspire the next generation of youth to be anti-bullies by encouraging them to become Random Acts of Kindness activists, or RAKtivists. More than 45,000 individuals ages 14 to 89 have signed the pledge to become a RAKtivist, committing themselves to do good deeds whenever possible.
Find more ways to improve the lives of kids in your community. Visit www.createthegood.org and search for the keyword “youth.”