There is a problem in our world today that is not new – it has just gotten worse. Bullying has taken place for centuries, but has increasingly grown to be a serious problem among teens. With the entire world being interconnected through email, IMs, chat rooms and social media sites, bullying not only occurs face-to-face, but across the globe. It has contributed to the rise in teen suicides in the past several years, creating more awareness of the problem.
Every day, hundreds of our teens in Michigan wake up afraid to go to school. The problem isn’t confined to the inner city schools of Detroit, either. Even students in the rural schools of the Upper Peninsula are affected. Bullying is when someone is repeatedly picked on by an individual or group with more power, either in social status or physical strength. It can be in the form of verbal abuse, physical attacks, psychological bashing or shunning, gossiping, or typed communications and web posts. The problem isn’t in an occasional attack, but in the fact that the bullying is relentless. This gives the receiver an overwhelming feeling of fear and a loss of self-esteem.
But there are some things you can do to better deal with bullies. The first thing is to recognize that there is a problem. Even if you don’t always see the bullying first-hand, you can be assured that the process is on-going. Whether you are dealing with the bully or the one being bullied, be aware that both parties are negatively affected.
If you are a parent or guardian, talk to the school administration or the adult that supervises your child’s community activities; however, if the bullying continues, there are steps you can take to rectify the situation. According to www.stopbullying.gov, if the bullying gets worse and you need additional help, consider the following:
- If someone is at immediate risk of harm because of bullying, call 911.
- If your child is feeling suicidal because of bullying, contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- If your child’s teacher is not keeping your child safe from being bullied, contact the local school administrator (principal or superintendent).
- If your school is not keeping your child safe from being bullied, contact the State School Department.
- If your child is sick, stressed, not sleeping, or is having other problems because of bullying, contact your counselor or other health professional.
- If your child is bullied because of their race, ethnicity, or disability and local help is not working to solve the problem, contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office on Civil Rights.
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