Bullying

Bullying involves a large number of children and youth in the United States in all socio-economic backgrounds. Research suggests that there are no significant racial differences in rates of bullying and is therefore a universal problem. Bullying includes a wide range of behaviors that all hurt. Bullying is an aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power and strength. It is a repeated behavior and can be physical, teasing or name calling, social exclusion or cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online, via text messages or online on social websites that allow people to send hurtful ongoing messages to people.

Bullying is a complex social problem that crosses into almost all areas that we function in on a daily basis. There is no way to profile a bully. If the conditions and environment are supportive of bullying, then almost anyone can be a bully. In one study, it was found that kids who were bullied at home by siblings and/or relatives were more likely to bully someone else at school. If left untreated, children who learn that bullying is an effective way to get what they want are likely to continue bullying behavior into adulthood. It has been shown that children who bully are more likely than their peers to hold beliefs supportive of violence and encourage other youth to bully over time. There have been studies that indicate bullying can be tied to other problem behaviors such as vandalism, fighting, drinking alcohol, dropping out of school, truancy and other issues such as carrying weapons and high-risk gun ownership.

There is no typical stereotype for a bully. Bullying victims can be anyone. Typically a victim is someone who is small, weak, different or academically challenged. Children with disabilities or who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered also are typically more likely to be bullied. However, there are no single causes of bullying. Anything that makes a child different is a potential reason for them to be bullied. It is reported that boys tend to use physical violence to bully others and girls use relationships to bully others. Boys tend to report being bullied by boys and girls report being bullied by both boys and girls.

Bullying has been found to be related to negative psychosocial functioning among children who are victims including:

Bullying does not cause a suicide. However, we do know that there is a connection between being bullied and depression. We know that depression is a risk factor for attempting suicide. Therefore, adults should look for signs that children are depressed and seek appropriate actions. Gatekeeper trainings for adults are easy ways to identify signs of suicide in a conversation with a child.

For Teachers and School Administrators

Bullying can take place in a multitude of places. Bullying typically occurs in areas such as the bathroom, playground, crowded hallways and school buses. Students also can use their cell phones or computers to bully other students. Teachers and coaches need to remind students that bullying is not accepted in school.

Teachers and administrators should advise students that telling someone about bullying is not tattling. If a teacher sees bullying occurring, he or she should intervene immediately and stop the bullying situation. They  also should document the issue and tell the appropriate school administrators.

In 2011, the North Dakota Legislature passed house bill 1465 in which every school district must develop and implement a bullying policy. The policy must be in place by July 1, 2012. Information can be found on the Department of Public Instruction's website at http://www.dpi.state.nd.us/health/factsheets/bullying.pdf

Signs of being bullied

Children may not always be vocal about being bullied. Listed below are some signs to look for in your child if you suspect he or she is being bullied:

Myths and Facts of bullying

What to do if you are being bullied (and how to help someone else who is being bullied)

Information adopted from the American Psychological Association, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and www.bullying.org