This coming Wednesday is National Stop Bullying Day, an effort to end a problem that has become more dangerous and sinister over time.
It is far more insidious than the playground and hallway taunts and intimidation years ago. It now takes a form that no one sees, except for the victim and the perpetrator.
Verbal bullying relies on spoken words of threats or disrespectful language aimed at a target. There is also physical bullying, which shows itself through hitting, kicking, punching or unwanted touching. Another form is relational bullying, which includes excluding a target from activities or group events.
Cyberbullying has become one of the most difficult for parents and others to notice and prevent. It can be done through messages on social media or in texts from the bully to the victim alone, or it can be done for a wider audience on social media to see.
Adults can have an enormous hand in bringing bullying to an end. They can encourage kids to take part in activities outside the home, and they can teach kids the best ways to use to the internet, texting and social media platforms.
The group STOMP Out Bullying — stompoutbullying.org — has a number of ways kids and adults can take action against inflicting fear upon others. Among its suggestions are making friends with someone at school you don’t know and to be a leader, taking action and not allowing others to feel isolated.
Kids and adults also can show that being kind to others works. Challenge others to conduct acts of kindness and even make videos of those actions to share, and use the hash tag #StopBullyingDay if you post it online.
Victims of bullying should be allowed to feel that they can tell someone else what is happening to them without repercussions. If you or your child sees bullying, report it. Too many children have and will continue to suffer in silence until someone speaks out for them.
Most importantly, set a good example for children to follow and stand up and help those who are being victims of bullies.