Bullying can happen anywhere — in schools, on the playground and even on the internet.
In the United States, reports of bullying are highest for middle schools (28%), followed by high schools (16%), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most common types of bullying are:
- Physical – Hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, spitting, taking or breaking someone’s things, and tripping.
- Verbal – Inappropriate sexual comments, name-calling, teasing, and verbal or written threats.
- Social – Excluding someone on purpose, making embarrassing comments, telling others to not be friends with someone and spreading rumors.
- Cyberbullying – Occurs online or through electronic media such as emails, instant messages, online games, phone calls, social media and websites.
Bullying has serious consequences. It can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, self-harm and even death. It also increases the risk for anxiety, depression, dropping out of school, lower academic achievement and sleep difficulties.
Consequences also exist for youth who bully others. They are at increased risk for academic problems, experiencing violence later in life and substance misuse.
While not every child who is bullied will show warning signs, here are some things to look out for:
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Faking illness or feeling sick
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Lost or destroyed books, clothing, electronics or jewelry
- Unexplained injuries
The key to solving this problem is to stop bullying before it starts. Parents, guardians, school staff and other caring adults can help prevent bullying by implementing these tips provided by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services:
- Encourage kids to do what they love.
- Help kids understand bullying.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
- Model how to treat others.
Bullying is a multi-layered problem, and it requires multi-layers of solutions. One thing won't solve the epidemic, nor will a "suck it up" attitude. It requires an intentional decision to care for others and address it when you see it in the moment.
Accountability is critical for bullying behaviors to cease. A surprising amount of adults and teachers engage in bullying behaviors and don't even realize they're doing it.
Having bullying trainings for teachers that address adult methods of bullying can also open the pathway for the different approaches to combat bullying each day in the school environment.
Willowbrooke at Tanner offers a 24-hour helpline at 770-812-9551. Clinicians at Willowbrooke at Tanner offer free and confidential mental health assessments and can direct those needing help to resources both within and beyond Tanner to determine the best order of action to cope with and treat eating disorders. Learn more about the resources available at WillowbrookeAtTanner.org.