Be Unlimited is taking a major stand against bullying.  Our 3 On Bullying feature appears on the last Friday of every month.  Here, you’ll learn facts to keep you informed, skills to help you handle bullying situations, the support you need, and much more.

This month, 3 On Bullying takes a look at some myths and facts about bullying.

MYTH ONE: Young people who are being targeted by bullies should always fight back.

FACT: Encouraging targets to fight back may, in some cases, make the bullying worse.  Sometimes when targets use aggressive strategies to handle bullying situations, they tend to experience prolonged and more severe bullying as a result.

Targets should be encouraged to be assertive, not aggressive.  There is a difference.  Encouraging a target to speak up is one thing.  If a target feels confident enough to tell their bully that they do not like how they are being singled out, picked on, or made to feel, there are ways to coach them.  Using a strong, firm voice (not yelling) is the best approach.  Statements like: “I want you to leave me alone” or “I want you to stop doing this to me” might help the situation.  Targets should also be taught that standing up for themselves can mean informing a trusted adult about what is happening to them.  There is nothing weak about that.  Targets need to know that they have options for taking care of themselves and getting the help they need.  

MYTH TWO: Bullying that is not physical does not cause any real harm.

FACT: Even when bullying is not physical, it is associated with a range of other serious problems.

For example:

  • Targets are more likely to report headaches and stomach aches than non-targeted students. Targets are also more likely to report anxiety and depression symptoms than those uninvolved in bullying.  Of greatest concern is the fact that mental health problems associated with bullying tend to continue into later life.
  • People who are bullied and those who bully are at a high risk for suicide.
  • Both targets and bullies are at risk for poor school functioning, in terms of negative attitudes towards school, low grades, and absenteeism.
  • People who bully others are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, and are also at risk for later criminal involvement.  For example, many elementary school bullies have criminal records by the time they reach their early twenties.

MYTH THREE: Bullying is only a school problem.

FACT: Bullying occurs wherever young people gather to live, learn, or socialize.  The majority of bullying tends to occur in the classroom, on the school playground, and on the school bus where young people are most often together.  Although bullying tends to occur in school, it is a community problem.  That said, schools can play a leadership role in addressing bullying problems.

Adults are essential for promoting healthy relationships among young people.  Adults are responsible for creating positive environments, promoting healthy relationships, and ending violence in the lives of youth. They are role models and must lead by example.  Adults must look for, listen, and respond to bullying.  Adults can also organize social activities that support young people’s relationships and stop bullying.

Be Unlimited is taking a major stand against bullying.  We hope you are ready to stand with us. 

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