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Bullying prevention: what to watch for and how to help

02/26/2020

Bullying is an invasive issue in schools, and one that can sometimes lead to tragic consequences. Most states have anti-bullying and cyberbullying laws for bullying prevention, and here’s why:

  • A study released in 2018 from YouthTruth found that one in three middle- and high-school students reported being bullied the previous year. That’s an increase from two years prior, when that number was just over one in four students.
  • Among the findings of the YouthTruth study was that middle school students were more likely to be bullied than high school students — nearly 40% of middle-school students said they’d been bullied versus 27% of high-school students.

The mode of bullying is expanding too. Although the YouthTruth study noted that students said most of bullying occurs in person, as the prevalence of social media and online contact grows, cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent.  A summary of cyberbullying.org’s research around middle school bullying found on average, about 28% of the students in the studies said they had been the victim of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime. The summary noted that this percentage had steadily grown since 2007, reaching a high of 36.5% in 2019.

Tragic consequences of bullying

If a student is being bullied, it can impede their academic performance and attendance. In some cases, it can have much more tragic consequences. According to an October 2019 report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2017 for those ages 10–24, and the suicide rate for that group has increased 56% between 2007 and 2017. The increase was more dramatic for the 15-19 year old age group, increasing 76% from 2007 to 2017.

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine reviewed studies from 13 countries and found signs of a connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children. Almost all of the studies found connections between being bullied and suicidal thoughts among children. Five reported that bullying victims were two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than children who were not bullied. We all know bullying prevention is important but these cases highlight the seriousness of the outcomes.

According to Stopbullying.gov, students who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints.
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

What should you watch out for?

School can put safeguards in place to help deter bullying and help students who have been victims of bullying. Here are some physical warning signs that school personnel and parents can watch for:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Students may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

How can technology support bullying prevention?

Technology can help schools detect potential incidents of bullying. Impero’s online monitoring and management software alerts school officials if students type or search for certain keywords relating to bullying, self-harm or suicide. This allows them to intervene before the situation gets out of hand, and before a tragedy occurs.

To learn more about Impero’ management and monitoring software, click here.

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