By Council Woman Lisa C. Davis….
October is National B u l l y i n g Prevention Month and I am urging everyone to take a s t a n c e against bullying and be actively involved in becoming aware and spreading awareness. Join me on the crusade by wearing an orange ribbon on October 12, 2011, Unity Day and link together with others in the community to send one huge “ORANGE” message that BULLYING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED by anyone. Walk with us on October 12, 2011to show your support and how important this issue is to you. (Visit www.miamigardens-fl.gov to learn more about the walk location and time)
The facts about bullying are that:
• Nearly 1 in 3 students is involved in bullying.
• While school violence as a whole is declining, bullying behaviors have increased by 5%.
• 13% of U.S. employees report being bullied
• 24% say they have been bullied in the past and an additional
• 12% say they have witnessed workplace bullying. Nearly half of all American workers (49%) report that they have been affected by workplace bullying, either being a target themselves or having witnessed abusive behavior against a co-worker.
• An estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical psychological, or other forms of abuse and neglect each year.
• Kids who are obese, gay, or have disabilities are up to 63% more likely to be bullied than other children.
• Boys are more likely than girls to bully others.
• Boys and girls get bullied in different ways.
It’s important to recognize the signs. At first glance, many people might think this behavior is easy to define. Their first image of bullying might be of a physically intimidating boy beating up a smaller classmate. While that can still be considered bullying today, people need to know bullying behaviors can be much more complex and varied than typical stereotype and can affect people of all ages, from school aged children to the elderly. For example, harmful bullying can also occur quietly and undercover, through gossip or on the Internet, causing emotional damage.
Although definitions of bullying vary, most agree an act is defined as bullying when the behavior hurts or harms another person physically or emotionally.
There are several different forms of bullying. These include:
• verbal bullying
• social exclusion or isolation
• physical bullying
• bullying through lies and false rumors
• having money or other property taken or damaged
• threats or being forced to do things
• racial bullying
• sexual bullying
• cyber bullying (via cell phone or the Internet)
• workplace bullying
It is possible to divide the different types of bullying into direct and indirect forms. In direct forms, bullying involves relatively open attacks, usually in a faceto- face confrontation. Typical examples of direct bullying include verbal bullying with derogatory comments and nasty names, and physical bullying with hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting. Theft may be involved.
In indirect bullying, the aggressive acts are more concealed and subtle, and it may be more difficult for the bullied person to know who is responsible for the bullying. Typical examples include social isolation— that is, intentionally excluding someone from a group or activity—and spreading lies and nasty rumors.
Several forms of cyber bullying may also be considered indirect in the sense that nasty messages are delivered from a distance, not in a face-to-face way, and from anonymous sources via social networking or email. And in some cases, it may be difficult or almost impossible to find out who originally sent the message.
Whether it is direct or indirect, bullying is intentional, meaning the act is done willfully, knowingly and deliberately to hurt someone physically and mentally and the targets have difficulty stopping the behavior directed at them and struggle to defend themselves.
Bullying can be circumstantial or chronic. It might be the result of a situation, such as being the new student at school, being different than others, being elderly and perceived as disabled, or it might be behavior that has been directed at the individual for a long period of time.
Why do some people bully? Research suggests there are several partly interrelated motives for bullying. People who bully:
• Have strong needs for power and (negative) dominance; they seem to enjoy being “in control” and subduing others.
• Find satisfaction in causing injury and suffering to other people. This may be at least partly due to the environment at home, which may have caused hostility within the person.
• Are often rewarded in some way for their behavior. This could be material or psychological rewards, such as taking money or enjoying the attention, status, and prestige they are granted from other people because of their behavior.
• May have some common family characteristics, such as parents who are not very involved in their children’s lives, people who lack warmth and positive involvement. Some parents may not have set clear limits on their children’s aggressive behavior and may have allowed them to act out aggressively toward their siblings and other children. Adults who bully may have been bullied themselves as a child and may come from an abuse home growing up.
• Sometimes have parents that use physical punishments and other “powerassertive” methods of child rearing. Adult bullies may have abusive spouses at home or anger management issues.
• Are more likely than other people to have seen or been involved in domestic violence. In all probability, they have been exposed or may have exposed themselves to violence in the media and maybe through participation in “power sports” like boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling.
It is important to emphasize these are main trends. Not all people who come from families with these characteristics will bully others, and not all people who bully come from these family environments. The peer group may also play an important role in motivating and encouraging bullying behavior in certain people. Now that you are aware of what bullying is, the various forms of bullying, and who are the people that bully; it’s time for you to take an active role against bullying. It might not be easy to recognize signs and symptoms of bullying, but armed with the information, it will be easier to recognize the signs and symptoms.
So what can you do?
“Bully Proof” your community
Bullying is not a normal rite of passage. It can have serious consequences. “Teach one reach one” by sharing with others in your community how to prevent bullying.
• Understand bullying and explain it to others It is more than physical; it can be done in person or over the phone or computer.
• Keep open lines of communication with your neighbors, friends, children coworkers and the elderly in your community. Check in with people and listen and look out for the signs.
• Encourage confidence. Teach people in your immediate community about bullying. Give guidance about how to stand up to those who bully if it is safe to do so.
• Become a trusted friend, parent, advisor so when someone is being threatened by a bully they can confide in you and discuss the situation as well as options; urge them to seek help through the proper channels.
• Be aware what is going on in the neighborhood, in the schools and in the parks. Pay attention.
What if you or someone you know is being bullied?
When people are involved in bullying, it is important they or their parents are willing to take action.
Children and seniors often do not tell their parents or family members that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or frightened. If you suspect bulling is involved.
• Talk with the bullying victim. Focus on them. Express your concern and make it clear that you want to help.
• Empathize. Say bullying is wrong, that it is not their fault, and that you are glad they had the courage to share the information with you.
• Work together to find solutions. Reassure them the situation can be handled privately.
• Document ongoing bullying. Keep a record of all bullying incidents. If it involves cyber-bullying, keep a record of all messages or postings.
• Help the person develop strategies and skills for handling bullying. Provide suggestions for ways to respond to bullying, and help the victim gain confidence by rehearsing their responses.
• Be persistent. Bullying may not be resolved overnight.
• Stay vigilant to other possible problems the victim may be having that may make them vulnerable to bullying. Some of the warning signs may be signs of other serious problems. Share your concerns with an advisor, guardian or family member.
Work with Your Child’s School
People are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, their Human Resource office or senior guardian, but bullying may not stop without the assistance of the people who can actually commit to doing something about it. Never be afraid to report the bullying and ask for help to stop the bullying.
• Know the school and workplace policies. Ask for a copy or check to see whether or not they have standards in place that will help resolve the situation.
• Open the line of communication. Establish a partnership with the people that can help take action against bullying.
• Get help from guidance counselors or other school-based health professionals, faith based organizations or other organizations that offer assistance to employees through the workplace. They may be able to help cope with the stress of being bullied.
Commit to making the bullying stop. What Not to Do
• Never tell anyone to ignore the bullying. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Often, trying to ignore bullying allows it to become more persistent.
• Do not blame the victim for being bullied. Do not assume a person did something to provoke the bullying.
• Do not encourage harm on the person who is doing the bullying. It can lead to bigger and more violent bullying. Do not contact the person doing the bullying. Leave that to the officials.Do not demand or expect a solution on the spot. Indicate you would like to follow up to determine the best course of action.
Most importantly, “ALL” adults in a community have a responsibility to help stop bullying among the community, How can you get involved?
• Develop a comprehensive community strategy to address bullying. Assess the bullying in your community. Use the assessment results to set goals and create action steps to stop and prevent bullying. Advocate for appropriate anti-bullying and harassment policies in schools and other institutions. Continually assess the effectiveness of your community’s efforts.
• Engage a diverse group of caring people and community leaders. Be certain to involve the community at every stage in planning, implementing, and evaluating your bullying prevention efforts. Seek out interested partners from a variety of sources, such as educators, mental health professionals and law enforcement.
• Raise community awareness. Don’t expect the entire community to be welli n f o r m e d . D i s t r i b u t e brochures, fact sheets and n e w s l e t t e r s throughout your c o m m u n i t y . Encourage local radio stations, TV broadcasters and newspapers to release public service announcements during prime viewing times.
“There is a lot of information to work with, but if you remember anything from this, remember bullying is not limited by age, gender, or education level. It is not a phase and it is not a joke. Bullying can cause lasting harm. That is why I wanted to do this campaign in the month of October to let everyone know that bullying will not be tolerated in Miami Gardens. Our schools are not the only place you can be bullied; it can happen in the parks, playgrounds, workplace, the local hangout, and in your own neighborhoods. We need to let our community know that not only can they be safe, but they can talk and tell someone if they are being bullied,” say’s Councilwoman Lisa C Davis, Seat 2 City of Miami Gardens. “There are resources available to help. Silence is no longer an acceptable response to bullying. Adults, students, and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying. Ignoring it won’t work. Everyone needs to be empowered with options to respond
Most states have laws to address bullying, harassment, and hazing. Some have a coordinator to direct the state’s violence prevention efforts, and some hold activities to highlight those efforts. To view a state’s information, click on the state in the map below. http://www.olweus.org/public/ laws_florida.page