October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
During the month of October schools, communities and organizations are encouraged to step forward and focus on the prevention of bullying and cyberbullying.
According to stopbullying.gov – a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – nationwide, roughly 20% of students aged 12-18 have experienced bullying. Research also indicates that constant bullying can lead to feelings of isolation, rejection as well as depression and anxiety.
Below are 5 ways you can stand up to bullying:
- Make friends with someone at school that you don’t know.
The feeling of isolation can sting for students who are new to a school and have yet to make friends or if they are naturally introverted and it takes more time for them to develop friendships. Reach out to someone you don’t know. Every person has a story to tell. The bridge you build with a stranger could turn into a friendship that lasts a lifetime.
- Create positive messages on Post-it notes and hand them to a student.
Everyone can use a pick-me-up message and words of encouragement. If a handwritten note isn’t possible, send them an encouraging email or IM. Let someone know that you’re checking in on them to see how they’re doing. Your random message of kindness may be exactly what they need right now.
- Don’t let anyone eat alone.
“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.” – Epicurus
Ancient Greeks like Epicurus knew that eating solo can feel like being alone on an isolated patch of sand in the middle of a vast ocean. If you see someone eating alone in the cafeteria, invite them to sit with you. Let them know you’re open to friendship. Letting them know there’s someone willing to listen can make a huge difference in their life. As Epicurus also said, “it is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.”
- Meet with fellow students and discuss how you can create a culture of acceptance at your school.
If you feel your school’s culture can become more welcoming, then this is your opportunity to become a leader and change the culture. Challenge classmates to “pay it forward” with acts of kindness. Create an environment of inclusiveness. Be there for classmates when they feel stress or if they feel alone. Become a friendly face and a familiar voice to the new student or to the student who spends a lot of time alone. Be a part of the solution.
- If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them.
If a classmate is being bullied, let the bully know that their actions are not acceptable. If necessary, report the bullying incident to a teacher immediately. Don’t allow bullying to continue. Continued bullying can lead to a bad situation becoming much worse.
You don’t have to be an official “authority figure” to take a stand against bullying. There are steps you can take and resources you can turn to for bullying prevention.