Bullying isn’t a new problem. In fact, some adults can recall a time they were made fun of by their peers and how it made them feel. What children experience today is no different. And while the elements of bullying have remained over the years, the way it affects kids today has changed. Now, bullying can be carried out of the classroom and into a victim’s home via social media, text messaging and mobile devices, making the bullies’ claims easily accessible to millions.
October is Bullying Prevention month. Each year schools and organizations speak up and out about the facts and effects of bullying and the measures that are taken to ensure every child experiences the best of childhood. However, for GSNETX, every month is used to speak out and educate others about bullying.
Did you know that 64% of children who were bullied didn’t report it (Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, and Hanson, 2010)?* It’s proven that the effects of being a bully, bullied or both have a significant impact on their development into adulthood, not to mention various health problems (Center for Disease Control, 2012).* So, what can we do about it?
GSNETX has created the ‘Be a Friend First’, or BFF, initiative to educate girls about bullying through interactive activities. Girls told us that when it comes to learning about bullying and relationships, they want to participate in small group activities with friends and classmates. Through BFF, girls will learn how to stand up for themselves, recognize what a healthy friendship looks like and resolve conflicts peacefully. Like other initiatives, BFF is sure to help girls understand bullying and take action for their peers.
“Bullying is different from what we remember. Bullies can hurt victims through texting and social media. For some, being bullied means being ridiculed 24/7.”
Girls use more subtle ways to bully. Their bullying behavior, which is called relational aggression, can include gossiping, teasing, deliberately excluding others, spreading mean rumors, or betraying trust. That kind of bullying is much harder to spot.
More than half of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the bullied student (Hawkins, Pepler, and Craig, 2001). Some students even say that supportive actions from peers, like giving advice or listening, were the most helpful to victims (Davis and Nixon, 2010).
You see, bully prevention shouldn’t just be the sole responsibility of the schools or even a campaign. Making a change takes a collective effort from the community, a perspective the Girl Scouts have had since the beginning.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will
never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
- Petrosino, A., Guckenburg, S., DeVoe, J., & Hanson, T. Institute of Education Sciences, (2010). What characteristics of bullying, bullying victims, and schools are associated with increased reporting of bullying to school officials? Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
- Center for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2012). Understanding bullying.
- Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D. J., & Craig, W. M. (2001). Naturalistic observations of peer interventions in bullying. Social Development, 10(4), 512-527.
- Davis, S., & Nixon, C. (2010). The youth voice research project: Victimization and strategies.