Tools and Resources
Anti-bullying Efforts Target Parents, Educators
Anti-bullying campaigns highlighted during October and throughout the year aren't only aimed at the kids committing and/or suffering from bullying. Adults – parents, caregivers, educators and community leaders - are also targeted.
"One argument is that bullying often happens in locker rooms, deserted hallways and on social media websites where an adult may not be present," said Kathryn Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. "But a majority of bullying happens in front of witnesses, including adults. And we know that adults have a responsibility to make sure there aren't places where kids aren't safe."
The Department of Education partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to launch the Stop Bullying Now! campaign. The website, StopBullyingNow.gov, has information for parents and educators about preventing bullying and its impact.
"Bullying is a growing issue and concern in communities, schools and homes," said Betsy Landers, president of the national Parent Teacher Association. "Research shows that children learn best when they feel they are in a safe and healthy learning environment, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Parents, teachers and school communities are responsible for creating that safe and healthy learning environment."
According to the Stop Bullying Now! Campaign, 15 percent to 25 percent of students have reported being bullied. And while school violence has declined 4 percent over the past several years, instances of bullying increased by 5 percent between 1999 and 2001.
Research has been conducted on who bullies and why, as well as its impact on children. A new study looked at what helps children deal with the trauma of bullying and found adult support helps in alleviating trauma.
The Youth Voice Project questioned 13,000 students in 3rd through 12th grades, and discovered many found it helpful when they told an adult at school or at home. The study also found that older kids found it helpful to remind themselves the situation wasn't about them or make a joke about it. Students found doing nothing, telling the bully how they felt or to stop and hitting the bully the least effective solutions.
The study also looked at what happened when the student told an adult and what was helpful. Results varied, but most students found it most helpful when the adult listened and gave advice and all students found it least helpful when they were ignored or told to act differently. The older the kids got, the less helpful they found mediation and punishing the bully.
"In my experience, large consequences lead to less reporting of behavior and to more threat of retaliation," said Stan Davis, a researcher with The Youth Voice Project during a webinar on bullying prevention in August. "I think we do better with small and predictable and escalating consequences that focus on teaching and reflection and then events are more likely to be reported and the outcome is more likely to be positive."
According to the national PTA organization, several school districts across the country have taken steps to engage parents and teachers in discussions about bullying. Kingsville Middle School PTA in Germantown, Md. worked with school administrators to create an anti-bullying task force that included parents, staff, students and representatives from the state attorney's office. A former violence prevention specialist spoke with students and then parents at Sunrise Valley Elementary School in Reston, Va. and explained the connection between bullying and student learning to parents. The Utah PTA promoted Rachel's Challenge, a program honoring a student killed in the 1999 Columbine shooting that focuses on students, educators and parents. When speakers from the program visit schools, they teach students how to respect and be kind to each other while holding separate sessions for educators and parents.
The program boasts more than 16.3 million people have participated in the live presentations.
"The solution starts at home," Landers said.
The national organization has also created Connect for Respect, a program for adults to help children deal with bullying situations.
"Connect for Respect gives adults a way to call attention to the issue, as well as encourages parents to talk to their child about bullying and to advocate for policies and practices that create a safe school climate for all children."Landers said. "These are resources they may have never had before and gives families a practical way to address the issue."
Throughout the month, Safe Start Center will provide discussion on how bullying impacts children and highlight resources and efforts to reduce incidents of bullying. Please check out our blog, Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for more.
U.S. Department of Education – www.StopBullying.gov
National Parent Teacher Association – www.PTA.org
The Youth Voice Project – www.youthvoiceproject.com
Rachel's Challenge – www.rachelschallenge.org