Bullying is an issue that can affect everyone involved and is linked to a multitude of negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. The Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) believes it’s important for parents, caregivers, and educators to be aware of the devastating effects bullying has on children and families.
In order to assist with this awareness, the KCSOS Student Wellness team will be hosting two one-hour Bullying Awareness webinars on October 24. One webinar will take place at 10 a.m. and the other will occur at 3 p.m.
These webinars are open to the public and will utilize the same Zoom link for both the morning and afternoon sessions. Registration links are available in both English and Spanish. The English link is https://kcsos.zoom.us/j/5297862037, and the Spanish is https://kcsos.zoom.us/j/7452353092.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
A flyer created by the KCSOS states that one out of every five students report being bullied and about 22% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying.
“Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school,” the flyer states.
There are four types of bullying that parents should know about:
- Verbal bullying: when mean words are said
- Physical bullying: physical aggression in unwanted and inappropriate ways
- Relational bullying: when someone is excluded or prevented from joining a group or activity
- Cyberbullying: when someone is spreading mean words and/or false rumors through emails, texts, and social media
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), being bullied can severely affect a child’s or teen’s self-image, social interactions, or school performance.
“The relationship between trauma and bullying is complex. Being bullied can lead to traumatic stress reactions including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. For example, a 2012 study (Idsoe, Dyregov, & Idsoe, 2012) found that for all students who experienced bullying, 27.6% of boys and 40.5% of girls had PTSD scores within the clinical range. Symptoms were even worse for those students who both bullied others and had been the targets of bullying themselves,” said the NCTSN.
Another flyer created by the KCSOS provided a list of warning signs to look out for if a child has been being bullied:
- Physical mark
- Fear of going to school or related events
- Having few friends or losing friends
- Avoiding social situations
- Clothing or personal items being lost or destroyed
- Low academic performance
- Not sleeping well
- Complaining of head or stomach aches
- Becomes unusually secretive
- Being aggressive or having angry outbursts
Steps that can help have been listed as:
- Listen to your child openly and calmly to make them feel heard and supported
- Tell your child that you believe in them and remind them that it’s not their fault and that you are here now to help
- Talk to the teacher or school
- Be a support system and make sure they know that they can come to you anytime
Another way to help someone who is being bullied is by speaking up and transitioning from a bystander to an upstander.
According to StopBullying.gov, someone who witnesses bullying, either in person or online, is a bystander. Friends, students, peers, teachers, school staff, parents, coaches, and other youth-serving adults can be bystanders. With cyberbullying, even strangers can be bystanders.
“Youth who are bullied often feel even more alone because there are witnesses who do nothing. When no one intervenes the person being targeted may feel that bystanders do not care or they agree with what is happening. There are many reasons why a bystander may not interject, even if they believe that bullying is wrong. They may be afraid of retaliation or of becoming the target of bullying themselves. They might fear that getting involved could have negative social consequences,” the website stated.
In contrast, an upstander is someone who takes action when they witness bullying. Even one person’s support can make a big difference for someone who is being bullied. When youth who are bullied are defended and supported by their peers, they are less anxious and depressed than those who are not.
KCSOS has provided the following parent and guardian resources to help combat bullying as well:
- Bullying and Suicide: What Parents and Teachers Can Do: www.bakersfieldbehavioral.com/blog/bullying-suicide
- Hotline: 1-877-755-4907
- Bullying Prevention Training & Resources: www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyres.asp
- Stop Bullying: stopbullying.gov
- KnowBullying App: store.samhsa.gov
- Stop Bullying Now Hotline: 1-800-273-8255