Bullying can be an unfortunate part of growing up. And the prevalence of bullying among children and teenagers is shocking. Consider these bullying statistics:
- More than 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
- 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
- One in 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.
Scouting’s values make it clear that bullying is not tolerated – both inside and outside of our organization. Our position on bullying – coupled with our commitment to serving America’s youth with a quality Scouting experience – provides Scout leaders a unique opportunity to teach respect and acceptance of others.
Included in our training are tips for Scout leaders and parents for bullying intervention. These practices are designed to create an anti-bullying culture that empowers Scouts to assist victims of bullying whenever and wherever it occurs.
Youth leaders both inside and outside of Scouting should be armed with the right information to help kids cope with bullying. Here are some sample tips from the BSA’s required training that can help adults assist bullying victims:
Take victims of bullying seriously.
- If victims gather the courage to talk to you about being bullied, be aware that they might be very upset even though they may not show it on the outside.
- Talk with victims where others can’t hear the conversation – they need to know that you take the problem seriously and will take action.
Help victims of bullying communicate with others and seek additional help.
- Encourage victims to talk to their parents and offer to speak to their parents with them if they want you to.
Help victims of bullying develop some strategies to cope with bullying situations that may come up in the future, but emphasize that it is not their fault that they are being bullied, even if these strategies don’t work.
- Recommend victims to use the buddy system – walk with a friend or group – to avoid being alone around the bully.
- Encourage victims to ignore or walk away from the bullying person, when possible.
- If victims are in danger of physical assault, remind the victims to take a deep breath, try to stay calm, get away if at all possible, and remember as much as they can to report to adults who can help.
Recognize some of the red flags that a child may be a victim of bullying:
- Frequent absences from school and other activities, such as troop meetings
- Avoidance of peers, especially in less-supervised situations
- Nervousness around certain peers
- Increased anger and resentment with no apparent cause
- Complaints of feeling sick to avoid activities
- Avoidance of group restrooms
- Physical marks such as cuts or bruises
Our training also focuses on the impact of cyberbullying, which is bullying another person using the Internet, texts or other “online” forms of communication. Again, the research is troubling:
- Nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online. One in four has had it happen more than once.
- 70 percent of students report seeing frequent bullying online.
- 68 percent of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.
If a young person tells you they are the victim of cyberbullying:
- Reassure victims that it is not their fault that they are a victim of cyberbullying and that they did the right thing to tell you. Communicate that your primary concern is their safety and emotional well-being.
- Understand that many young people do not tell their parents that they have been victimized for fear that they will lose their Internet privileges. Encourage them to talk to their parents. If they are not comfortable doing that, offer talk to their parents with them.
- Parents should encourage Scouts to block bullying messages or delete those messages without reading them. (In some situations, however, it may be helpful to keep a record of incidents in case the cyberbullying escalates.)
- Parents and Scouts can also report incidents of cyberbullying to Internet service providers.
- If the cyberbullying involves threats, parents should call the police to ensure the
With another school year getting underway, it is vital that we all focus on the welfare of our young people as they rejoin their peers in the classroom, participating in school sports and other activities inside and outside the school schedule, as well as Scouting events.
What steps are you taking to be on the watch for bullying – and what steps do you take to create an anti-bullying environment? Share your thoughts here!