By Cara Beth Lewis
Going back to school brings up many worries and stressors: maintaining healthy routines, getting good grades, understanding what is taught, doing well in extra-curriculars, making friends, and, unfortunately, bullying.
Bullying is not shy in schools. Many students, and even teachers, are victims of bullying. On the other hand, many students and, yes – even teachers, act as bullies.
While laws may vary from state to state, the definition of bullying accepted by many mental health professionals is “physical or verbal aggression that is repeated over a period of time and involves an imbalance of power,” according to hopkinsmedicine.org.
When victims of bullying feel like they are unable to speak out about what is going on, that is when bigger issues such as depression, self-isolation, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts arise. With that being said, as a peer, teacher, parent, or whatever your role may be – the best thing you can do is be an advocate. Stand up for victims of bullying and help them to understand that they are not alone. Offer help in whatever form they may need, and educate yourself on resources that you can refer them to.
According to ABC4.com, “The SafeUT App is a great resource that’s mission is to help with any size problem at any time. The SafeUT app provides a way to connect to licensed counselors that are ready to listen. Help is immediate, confidential, and as easy as reaching for your phone and sending that first text.” Visit: https://safeut.org/.
The National Suicide and Crisis Hotline number has recently been changed to 988. It is available 24/7, in both Spanish and English. 988lifeline.org
There are thought to be five types of bullying:
- Physical bullying involves but is not limited to hitting, kicking, pushing, or otherwise fighting others.
- Verbal bullying refers to the use or misuse of words to harm others through name-calling, insults, or harsh teasing.
- Relational bullying focuses on excluding one or more people from a peer group.
- Reactive bullying is when a person responds to being a former victim by bullying others.
- Cyberbullying is willful and repeated bullying behavior that involves electronic technology like gaming devices, the internet, social media, emails, blogs, cell phones, etc.
Bullying has been a societal issue since the beginning of time. Truthfully, the issue will never end. As members of society, we have to learn ways to protect ourselves, our peers, and our children from these hurtful acts. Unfortunately, modern technology makes bullying more severe in many cases. Cyberbullying is a whole different beast. Hopkinsmedicine.org shared, “Children have made attempts on their lives as a result of social media bullying. If this happens in your family, consider filing a police report and pressing charges.”
If you are a victim of bullying in any form, find a friend. Internal battles such as depression and suicidal thoughts are not battles that should be fought alone. If you know someone who is being bullied or struggling with their mental wellbeing, be a friend. One person can make a huge impact.
Find a friend if you need one, be a friend if they need one.