National Bullying Prevention Month
October 30, 2022
by Kelly McCandless
October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we rounded up some information about the all-too-important topic of bullying. Unfortunately, the issue is prevalent. As parents, as community members, it’s critical we continue learning about the issue and advocating against it. And remember, bullying is not limited to kids. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean everyone grows out of bullying.
What is Bullying Prevention Month?
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), October was first declared National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006 and acknowledges that bullying has devastating effects on children and families causing things like school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression.
Bullying may be verbal, physical, occur through exclusion or happen digitally through social media, texting, emails, etc. NCTSN says, “Unlike mutual teasing or fighting, bullying occurs when one person or a group of people is perceived as being more powerful than another and takes advantage of that power through repeated physical assaults, threats of harm, intimidation, or by purposefully excluding a person from a valued social group. Being bullied can severely affect the person’s self-image, social interactions, and school performance and can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance use, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”
Recognition of the issue during October largely focuses on bullying among kids. Resources exist to draw attention to the problem, to empower kids to speak up and speak out, and to encourage connection so students suffering from bullying do not feel as isolated or alone.
Here in Billings, our schools report a commitment to standing against bullying. Billings Public Schools in conjunction with the Montana Office of Public Instruction participate in the Stand With Us Against Bullying Program. Billings Catholic Schools adhere to a strict policy of respect, noting specific consequences for bullying behavior in their Student Handbook. In addition to the written codes and policies, many schools activate individual campaigns against bullying on their campuses.
Despite the efforts on many levels, the unfortunate reality is that bullying is an ongoing issue, making the day-to-day life of many students, and, frankly, adults, miserable. According to PACER, an organization committed to expanding opportunities for youth with disabilities, “One in five students report they have been bullied; chances are, it is happening to a young person you know and care about. And the issue affects not only the youth who are bullied, but those who witness it say the behavior impacts them as well. Witnesses to bullying report feeling less safe, helpless to stop it, and intimidated. Plus, youth who bully are at a greater risk for adverse physical or emotional health or issues with the legal system.”
Feeling helpless or uncertain can be paralyzing for a student directly, or even a parent, caregiver or friend wanting to aid a child struggling. PACER’s toolkits for bullying are exceptional resources. From letter templates reporting issues to handouts to guide conversations with kids, the website offers tons of excellent tools to help guide you through bullying experiences. You’ll even find support if you or your child are the ones engaging in bullying behavior. The information is widespread and exists for all ages and levels of engagement in the issue.
And remember: bullying prevention is certainly not limited to October. Encourage conversations, teach kindness and compassion, and become informed on the bullying prevention policies in your school or even your workplace. Supporting one another against bullying is critical to putting a stop to the behavior.
Kelly McCandless is a Billings native who loves a well-planned adventure, being outdoors when the weather is nice, historic fiction and hot coffee. She’s passionate about writing, cooking, education, travel and doing all of these things with her husband Ryan and their two incredible daughters