A month-long campaign to prevent childhood bullying and promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion

Sixteen years ago, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center established National Bullying Prevention Month. The campaign’s powerful message that bullying should never be a part of childhood unites communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. 

What is bullying? The image of a larger boy pushing around a smaller classmate comes to mind when the word “bullying” is used. Physical bullying, such as hitting and shoving, is easy to recognize, but bullying also includes spreading gossip, purposeful exclusion, and negative online conversations and behavior. Bullying can cause more emotional than physical damage. Students often describe bullying as, “Someone making you feel less about who you are as a person.”

Although definitions vary, an act is defined as bullying when:

• The behavior hurts, humiliates, or harms another person physically or emotionally

• Those doing the behavior have intent, and those targeted by the behavior have difficulty stopping the action or defending themselves

• There is a real or perceived “imbalance of power,” in which the student exhibiting the bullying behavior has more “power,” either physically, socially, or emotionally

Bullying behavior is often repeated, but it can occur in a single incident that is either very severe or arises from a pattern of other behaviors.

You can make a difference. During October and beyond, show that you care:

1. Have a conversation with your children. Bullying often makes kids feel powerless, leading to issues with self-esteem and confidence. Discuss how to handle hurtful behavior early and often, in the same way you discuss being safe while swimming, going to a mall, or spending time with friends. It’s never up to a child to stop the bullying on their own, but you can involve them in the solution by helping them learn to advocate for themselves. Speaking up, expressing needs, and taking action are essential self-advocacy tools. When children know that there are options for regaining control or influencing a difficult situation, they gain resilience. 

2. Reinforce kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Positive adult role modeling, mentoring, and age-appropriate approaches to kindness, acceptance, and inclusion impact how children treat each other. Young children are just learning what it means to get along with others. Practice role-playing activities, play games, create art, explore feelings, and establish a clear set of behavioral rules. These strategies reinforce positive relationships and behaviors, and are key to helping kids get along, which can help prevent bullying.

3. Promote and celebrate Unity Day on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Unity Day, started by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in October 2011, is the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month. The call to action is simple: wear and share the color orange to unite for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. This vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, showing support for students who have been bullied and for bullying prevention. #UnityDay2020

PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center actively leads social change to prevent childhood bullying, so that all youth are safe and supported in their schools, communities, and online. PACER Center provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others, and recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students. For more information and resources on bullying prevention, visit PACER.org/bullying or call 952-838-9000.

 

Julie Hertzog is the author, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

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