GREENVILLE — Edison State Community College students delivered a presentation on the signs, types, and effects of bullying at the Greenville Public Library Thursday evening.
A bully, according to the presenters, is someone who uses superior strength to intimidate someone else into doing what the bully wants. 50 percent of children admit to being bullied, research suggests, while one in three admits to being a bully him- or herself. 65 percent of bullying in schools, meanwhile, takes place on the playground, and over half of bullying incidents overall are believed to go unreported. Kids are most often bullied as a result of their weight, race, or other aspects of their physical appearance.
Kaitlyn Howard, a College Credit Plus student who also attends Tri Village High School in New Madison, felt that schools could be doing more to raise awareness about bullying.
“The teachers really care. They have people come in and talk about bullying at least once a year,” Howard said. “But I don’t think it gets reiterated enough.”
Howard said that she had been bullied herself when she was in elementary and middle school, while Madison Little, a student at Franklin Monroe High School, claimed her younger sibling had been targeted.
The four main types of bullying, presenters said, include acts of physical assault or intimidation, such as hitting someone or stuffing them inside a locker; verbal harassment or humiliation; acts of social exclusion or ostracism, such as spreading rumors or excluding someone from taking part in group activities; and, of course, the increasingly popular cyber-bullying now prevalent on many social media platforms.
Effects of bullying can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and changes in mood or personal habits, such as staying in one’s room all day or becoming withdrawn and refusing to speak. Unexplained bruises and conspicuously falling grades can also be indicators that something is amiss. Bullied children are also twice as likely to suffer frequent headaches and stomach pains, the presenters said.
Another serious aspect of bullying is the prevalence of bystanders: children, or even adults, who witness acts of bullying, but don’t speak up, whether as a result of social pressure, simply not wanting to get involved, or fear of becoming a target of bullying themselves.
“The problem is that this is something that’s been going on since the beginning of time,” Bob Robinson, the students’ instructor at Edison State, said. “But people are just now starting to recognize it as a social issue.”
Presenters urged parents in the audience not to be afraid to talk to their kids if they notice signs that their children are being bullied; to encourage their child to talk to a counselor or other mental health professional, if need be; to be aware of their child’s level of social development, and how they interact with other kids; and to be willing to contact school authorities if needed.
Presenters also urged parents not to avoid confronting signs that their child may be a bully themselves, such as unexplained money or belongings, frequently getting into trouble (including fights) at school, and hanging out with other bullies. The Edison students stressed the importance of teaching children compassion and encouraging them to think about how their actions affect other people, possibly by getting them involved with some sort of charity or public service.
Parents looking for resources or information about bullying may search saferschools.ohio.gov.
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