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I have been bullied as a child and as an adult. It’s difficult for me to think back on how those experiences have negatively affected me throughout my life, but I know that they affected me the most when I was young. When going through these low periods as a child and adolescent, I remember feeling very alone and upset that I was being singled out and attacked. No one deserves to feel this way.

Bullies have existed throughout history but now, more than ever before, more and more people are taking a stand against this damaging behavior thanks to organizations and individuals who are creating awareness and helping lead the fight.

I spoke with representatives from several of these organizations and am more hopeful than ever that with knowledge and unity, the fight to end bullying is one that can be won.

I. Some shocking statistics regarding weight-based bullying:

Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center reports the following:

  • 64% of students enrolled in weight-loss programs reported experiencing weight-based victimization (Puhl, Peterson, and Luedicke, 2012).
  • One third of girls and one fourth of boys report weight-based teasing from peers, but prevalence rates increase to approximately 60% among the heaviest students (Puhl, Luedicke, and Heuer, 2011).
  • 84% of students observed students perceived as overweight being called names or getting teased during physical activities (Puhl, Luedicke, and Heuer, 2011).

II. What are some common effects victims of bullying experience?

Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center reports the following:

  • Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment (Center for Disease Control, 2012).
  • Students who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood (Center for Disease Control, 2012).
  • Compared to students who only bully, or who are only victims, students who do both suffer the most serious consequences and are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems (Center for Disease Control, 2012).
  • Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches (Gini and Pozzoli, 2013)

You can read more about the effects of bullying HERE.

III. What can parents do to address the problem of bullying or help their children handle being bullied?

Melissa Sherman is the founder of Beyond Bullies. Melissa founded the organizaton to provide relief for bullied children and to create awareness about the impacts of bullying.

Some of the services Beyond Bullies provides include: E-Teen Leader, an online one-on-one confidential chat between trained teen leaders and bullied teens spread across the country; an end to the silent bystander program, a teen leadership and adolescent bullying prevention program; workshops/trainings for school faculty, students, teachers and professionals who work with youth.

Michele Sherman, MA, MFT says many of her clients have expressed feelings of sadness, helplessness, and despair when other peers at school have bullied them.

She suggests that parents can become more involved in their child’s life when they are the target of bullying by:

  • Educating their children about the signs of bullying, and direct them to report anything to you as soon as it happens.
  • Creating a safe and secure environment
  • Involving a school counselor that he/she can talk to when they are feeling upset
  • Teaching and encouraging your child to develop their social and communication skills, and provide them with techniques for conflict resolution
  • Asking questions about your child’s day, really listening and validating their feelings

Alexandra Penn founder of Champions Against Bullying adds that parents should:

  • Start a line of communication with their children at an early age; kids should feel like they can always come to their parents
  • Parents need to learn the tools and skillset need to actually deal with bullying

Wear Orange on October 21st to stand united against bullying!

“To put an end to bullying it will take action from students, parents, teachers, and communities.” ~ Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center

If you care about safe and supportive schools and communities, then join me in wearing ORANGE on October 21st, Unity Day, to send one large message of support, hope, and unity to show that we are United against Bullying and United for kindness, acceptance and inclusion!

I’d also like to highlight organizations like Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, Champions Against Bullying, and Beyond Bullies, for making a differences in the lives of those who have been bullied by creating awareness and bringing light to this serious problem.

Let’s stand together to finally end this destructive behavior!

Natasha

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