Our View: Community must work together to stop bullying

Published 9:28 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bullying is a serious problem in the U.S.

The department’s stopbullying.gov website indicates about one in four children will be bullied in their lifetime, with lasting negative impacts for those being bullied and the bullies.

Clark Countians will get an opportunity to learn more about bullying, its dangers and potential impacts at an upcoming session of the Dangers In Plain Sight series.

The session focused on bullying will be the last in the three-part series that began in 2018, and will take place at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Winchester-Clark campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College, 2020 Rolling Hills Lane. A free dinner will be served before the session at 5:15 p.m.

A representative with the Clark County Health Department is presenting the session on bullying, and Dr. Latonia Sweet, a behavioral health specialist, and Marvin King, pastor of First Baptist Church, will also speak.

According to stopbullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”

Bullying can include name-calling, teasing, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting or threatening to cause harm and any physical bullying. Social bullying, which includes behaviors like purposely alienating someone else, telling others not to be friends with a child, spreading rumors or embarrassing someone on purpose, is also an issue. Of course, in modern times, a large portion of bullying takes place through technology like cellphones and social media, which is called cyberbullying.

According to the School Crime Supplement from the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 21 percent of students age 12 to 18 experienced bullying in 2015.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance reported that 19 percent of students in grades nine through 12 reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Bullying has detrimental effects on all parties — those who are bullied, those who do the bullying and those who witness bullying. Negative impacts of bullying range from mental health issues, substance abuse and suicide.

According to stopbullying.gov, children who are bullied report increased depression and anxiety, changes in sleep and eating patterns, health complaints and decreased academic achievement.

Children who bully others can engage in other violent and risky behaviors into adulthood, including substance abuse and fighting, engaging in early sexual activity and an increased likelihood of dropping out of school. Bullies are also more likely to have criminal convictions as adults and to be abusive to their partners, spouses or children.

The best way to prevent these negative impacts is to learn about the warning signs, how to stop bullying and what steps to take to protect children.

The upcoming is one that will be beneficial for children, parents, educators, day care providers, coaches and anyone else who works with young people on a regular basis.

When adults — and even other children — know what to watch for, they can become “upstanders” instead of bystanders.

Intervening in a safe, responsible way could be the key to stopping bullying behavior, sending a message that is unacceptable and helping children throughout our community life a healthier, happier childhood.

We have been proud to see the outcome of the Dangers In Plan Sight series, and hope to see more sessions added in the future.