Stearns County Attorney
Janelle P. Kendall
Bullying: It's Not Just Part of Growing Up
In early 2004, I spoke with Stearns County public school superintendents about kids these days... is it just me, or are they getting meaner? The result of that conversation was an anti-bullying campaign themed "Bullying - It's Not Just Part of Growing Up", played out in all Stearns County school districts the Fall and into the Spring of 2005, hitting an apparent chord with adults all over Stearns County and beyond that ADULTS need to do something, and stop ignoring bullying behavior.
The presentation by Janelle Kendall, written by Janelle and school counselors, teachers and administrators across the county, carries the message that adults must not continue to ignore bullying behavior for two main reasons: 1) it affirms for the bully that there's nothing "wrong" with this behavior, and worse yet, 2) it affirms for the victim that no one is going to do anything to stop it. Kids' willingness to then take matters into their own hands - through violent retribution or self harm, is well known and documented. Thus - it's time for adults to simply say there is something wrong with bullying behavior, and react when they see it. The presentation includes 15 years of research into the long term effects of bullying on not only victims, but bullies and bystanders, and also includes Stearns County specific data on what kids report happens to - and from them - at Stearns County schools.
Community response to the program has included Bernick's Pepsi providing 70 lunchroom-sized banners to schools across the county, media coverage, and a recognition by county residents that they can - and should - intervene in bullying situations. Further speaking engagements can be arranged by calling 320-656-3880. Please note that this presentation is geared towards school faculty/staff.
FACT: 75% of children have been victims of bullying.
- Repeated and targeted actions on one person or group of people
- Intentional negative action
- A misuse of power
Examples of Bullying
FACT: 34% of 6th graders, 37% of 9th graders and 22% of 12th graders in Stearns County schools admitted hitting or beating up another person at least one time (source: 2001 MN Dept. of Education Student Survey).
A common form of bullying is to tease a kid about being different from the "norm" by pushing or shoving, by taunting or degrading (direct), or by excluding such as "Let's all walk by and not look at X" (indirect).
Targets of the Bully
FACT: 160,000 kids skip school every day due to fear of being attacked or intimidated by other students (source: Nat. Assoc. of School Psychologists).
- Bullying is directed against kids who cannot defend themselves or are perceived as being different.
- Kids' intolerance of any "difference" is the start of the problem.
- Bullying peaks in middle school and continues into high school.
Effects of Bullying on the Victim
FACT: 23% of 6th graders, 27% of 9th graders and 18% of 12th graders in Stearns County schools reported being threatened by another student (source: 2001 MN Dept. of Education Student Survey).
- Kids who are bullied tend to "get back" through violence (towards others or themselves).
- That violence leads to depression, which leads to suicide or other violence.
- Boys who are bullied have a higher chance of going to prison.
- Girls who are bullied exhibit a greater chance of suicide or having an eating disorder.
Effects of Bullying on the Bully
FACT: 1 in 4 bullies will have a criminal record by age 30.
- Status as a bully is one of the best predictors of dropping out of high school.
- Bullies are 4-5 times more likely to come into contact with criminal justice or mental health systems.
Setting Rules Against Bullying
FACT: Silence by adults affirms the bully, and the perception that the victim "deserves it" or should just "take it."
- Do not bully other students.
- Help students who are bullied.
- Try to include students who are left out.
- Tell an adult at school and an adult at home when somebody is being bullied.
What School Staff Can Do
FACT: 23% of students bullied, vs. 71% of teachers,report that teachers intervene "almost always" in bullying situations (Toronto Board of Education Study, from The Bully, the Bullied, & the Bystander).
- Create and enforce school policies that seek to reduce and prevent violence and provide protection and support to the victim.
- Create and enforce a School Safety Plan.
- Be accessible to students.
- Raise awareness and knowledge of the problems related to bullying by discussing the topic of bullies with students regularly.
- Learn how to recognize the warning signs that a child might be headed for violence.
- Foster an atmosphere of kindness and concern toward others and property.
- Offer counseling to both victims and bullies.
- Actively involve parents -- invite them to talk with you about their child's progress and concerns.
Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention www.ojjdp.gov
MN Department of Education http://education.state.mn.us/
National Association of School Psychologists www.nasponline.org
National Crime Prevention Council www.ncpc.org/
London Family Court www.lfcc.on.ca/
National Center for Bullying Prevention http://www.pacer.org/bullying/