NEWS from WABANAKI PUBLIC HEALTH

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The end of bullying begins in our community

With school well underway, October is a good time to mark National Bullying Prevention Month, especially considering one in every four students (22%) reports being bullied during the school year – that’s according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2015).

In Maine, 37 percent, including 39 percent of Native Americans, have reported being hurt emotionally or excluded by other students within the last month; meanwhile, 17 percent of students said they were hurt physically or threatened with violence during that month (Maine Youth Voices Survey, 2011).

The impact of bullying can be devastating, bringing about physical injury, social and emotional distress, and even death – while the risks for those who bully include increased risk of substance misuse, trouble learning, and violence later in life, according to the National Center of Injury Prevention and Control.

But fellow students can also be tremendous allies. Consider that more than a half of bullying incidents (57 percent) stop when a peer steps forward on behalf of the student who is being targeted, according to the Youth Voice Project.

Of course, it’s even better to stop bullying before it begins.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers four promising approaches to bullying prevention:

  • Improving supervision of students
  • Using school rules and behavior management techniques in the classroom and throughout the school to detect and address bullying by providing consequences for bullying
  • Having a whole school anti-bullying policy, and enforcing that policy consistently
  • Promoting cooperation among different professionals and between school staff and parents

What will you do to prevent bullying this month? According to one student, you don’t even have to say a word: “A student went on my side and helped me … not by talking to the student, but just by being there for me.” (Maine Youth Voices Survey, June 2011)

Here are some great resources to learn more about bullying and how to stop it:

Maine Department of Education Bullying Prevention Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Prevent Bullying website section

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center resources

The StopBullying.gov website