Bullying is defined as … “an intentional act that causes harm to others, and may involve verbal harassment, verbal or non-verbal threats, physical assault, stalking, or other methods of coercion such as manipulation, blackmail, or extortion. It is aggressive behavior that intends to hurt, threaten or frighten another person. An imbalance of power between the aggressor and the victim is often involved. Bullying occurs in a variety of contexts, such as schools, workplaces, political or military settings, and others.” (1)
There are literally thousands of articles online describing what it is, how it happens, why it happens, and what to do about bullying. Bullying happens in early childhood all through adulthood, in all grades from kindergarten into higher education. It doesn’t matter the gender, the size, the look, the class. Bullying doesn’t discriminate. It is imperative that bullying is treated as a public health issue and requires the entire community to change it.
There is good news! If you want to decrease bullying, you can utilize prevention skills you already know! Understand that efforts like assemblies and one-time trainings don’t decrease substance misuse or bullying. Organize a coalition or include bullying prevention in your current coalition. Assess the needs of your particular community by gathering data and identify resources or organizations already targeting this issue and build a partnership for collaboration, and advocate with legislators to set good policy at the state level.
If you witness bullying, intervene! Remain level-headed and calm. Separate the parties involved and make appropriate referrals if needed. If there is an injury, seek medical attention and if violence or weapons are involved, contact law enforcement.
Together, we can create change to keep our youth safe, happy and bully-free.
Guest post by: Heather Lewis, ASUDC