Help Stomp Out Bullying

Annabelle Callister, writer

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Bullying is one of the biggest problems in our society. It can be online or in real life, verbal or physical.  This repeated peer abuse needs to be stopped, and the world, our country, our local schools, and all individuals have a responsibility to bring every form of bullying to an end.

“We must teach the next generation to live by and honor the golden rule, ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you,’ which is paramount in today’s society and my focus as first lady,” Melania Trump said in her speech to the United Nations On September 20, 2017. “No children should feel bullied, isolated, or afraid with nowhere to turn. We need to step up, come together, and ensure our children’s future is bright.” First Lady Trump met with executives from the world’s best known technology companies, including Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, to discuss cyberbullying on March 20, 2018. The First Lady tweeted, “It was a very productive meeting on cyber safety and how to teach our children to be responsible digital citizens.”

Dr. Dan Olweus from Sweden has been researching and doing intervention work on bullying among youth for the last 40 years. Olweus defines bullying as peer abuse with both long and short term consequences for students who are involved, whether as the student who bullies, the student who was bullied, or the bystanders who see or know it is happening. Research shows bullying can affect both academic success and mental health. Dr. Olweus lists three important components to the definition of bullying, including: “aggressive behavior that involves unwanted negative actions, a pattern of behavior repeated over time, and an imbalance of power or strength.” The Olweus Bullying Prevention program is utilized in thousands of schools around the world today. Olweus teaches about the bully circle and everyone’s role in bullying in person.  The ability to see the role one plays in bullying helps to move students towards being ‘upstanders’ instead of bystanders. We should all become defenders for those who can’t defend themselves.

At JPII, we have effective ways of reducing bullying and keeping students safe. Ms. Wilson recently responded to several questions.  The first question was, “What school policies are in place to deter bullying?” Her response was that all of JPII’s policies are listed in the JPII handbook. The next question was, “What does JPII do to provide a positive school climate?” Ms. Wilson stated, “JPII takes a holistic approach to building a positive school climate. From hiring faculty and staff that strive to build meaningful and supportive relationships with students, to creating structures, like the housing system, that encourage inclusivity and school spirit. JPII is committed to creating a loving and positive school environment.” The third question was, “How big of a problem do you think bullying is at JPII?” Ms. Wilson replied, “Unfortunately, bullying can happen at any school, including JPII.  However, when faculty and staff at JPII are made aware of a situation that may involve bullying they act swiftly to address the situation.” The last question was, “What can a student do if they are being bullied at JPII?” Ms. Wilson suggested that, “Students who see bullying, or are victims of bullying, should tell a trusted adult in the building.  That can be an administrator, such as the Dean of Students, a teacher, a counselor, a coach, an advisor, etc.” Bullying should not be accepted anywhere in the world, and it is clearly not tolerated behavior at JPII. Ms. Wilson has a great outlook on addressing bullying as a counselor, and the biggest job she has at JPII is to help solve problems at the school, such as bullying.

When it comes to bullying, everyone can have an impact. Whether a student is the bully, encouraging the bully, or just watching it happen, everyone can play a role in ending the cycle of negative behavior. Bullies need to realize their impact on others before it is too late. 80 percent of the time, an argument with a bully turns into a physical fight. Students should tell an adult if someone is mistreating them.

Cyberbullying happens online, but is just as damaging. 21 percent of kids have received mean emails or other types of messages, but many more have been bullied online in other ways. Nearly 60 percent of kids do not tell their parents or another adult about what happens to them online, and over 50 percent of kids admit to having said something mean to someone online.

When students become defenders and focus on kindness, the positive climate created affects everyone. If interested in having an even greater impact please consider becoming a teen ambassador for StompOutBullying.org, or donating to the foundation. In general, students can begin with the simple task of asking other students to join them at lunch or an after school function.

Life has its ups and downs, and it’s not always perfect; no one is. Things can get tough, but we have to stand by each other and always be kind. Bullying is a big world problem, but together we can work hard to solve it.

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