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Saturday, October 1, 2016

National Bullying Prevention Month

While it would be nice if teenagers could treat each other with equal respect, unfortunately a number of adolescents are subjected to ridicule and abuse from their peers. Some would argue that pain and discomfort is a part of growing up, that in the end it may make the victim of such treatment a stronger person. The reality is more times than not quite the opposite.

High school can be real challenge, making friends with the “right” clique or striving for popularity in a sea of awkward teenage growing pains. Some students manage to sail through their high school years without any problems, whereas others are the punchline of people's jokes. There are times when such criticisms become a constant problem, and can even elevate to physical abuse at times. Yet, as bad as that is, bullying continues to go unchecked among teenagers and young adults. As you might imagine this can cause serious mental health problems for victims down the road, but you may not have thought that bullies are susceptible to problems of their own.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that:

“Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, and even death. Victimized youth are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment. Youth who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood. Compared to youth who only bully, or who are only victims, bully-victims suffer the most serious consequences and are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems.” 

The aforementioned point highlights just how important it is to curb bullying, as neither the victim nor the bully wins in the end. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The anti-bullying campaign known as STOMP Out Bullying™ is calling upon schools and organizations to help them “encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children of all ages.”

The CDC points out that in a 2015 nationwide survey, 20% of high school students reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey. This is a nationwide problem worthy of concern.

Throughout the month there will be events held with the aim of opening up the conversation about bullying. The hope is that when people see others being bullied they will intervene, and that victims will find the strength to come forward for help. This coming Monday, STOMP Out Bullying™ is asking that as many people as possible where a blue t-shirt to show support for National Bullying Prevention Month and to help end bullying and cyberbullying.

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