Editorial: What can be done to reduce bullying in area?

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

According to a 2014-15 study from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 21 percent of students nationwide ages 12 to 18 experience bullying.

Bullying can occur during or after school hours at school, on the playground, on the bus, in neighborhoods or on the internet, among other places.

It can be anything from teasing, threatening, spreading rumors and embarassing someone in public, to spitting, hitting, pushing or breaking someone’s things. It can be purposefully excluding someone from a group or telling other children not to be friends with someone.

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Bullying can lead to many negative outcomes, including impacts on mental health, decreased academic achievement, substance use and sometimes even suicide.

These outcomes affect not only the victims of bullying, but also his or her friends and family, as well as others who may have witnessed the behavior.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children who bully others are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs into adolescence and as adults, to get into fights, drop out of school, have criminal convictions and be abusive to their romantic partners, spouses or children as adults. Bullying behaviors from childhood can also carry into adulthood in the workplace.

What can be done to reduce bullying — not only for our children, but also for the adults in our community?

This week, as part of Anti-Bullying Week, the Anti-Bullying Alliance is shining a spotlight on bullying and encouraging children, teachers, parents and others to take action against bullying throughout the year. 

The theme this year is “All Different, All Equal.”

The goal is to empower young people to celebrate what makes them and others unique and to help people understand how important it is that everyone feels valued and included  and able to be themselves without the fear of bullying.

The Tribune is working on a series of articles about bullying to be printed in the coming weeks.

We hope to educate the community on bullying in our own schools, what is being done to curb it and what efforts still need to be undertaken to put an end to this troubling epidemic.

If you have a story you’d like to share of how you may have been bullied, please contact reporters Sarah Kocher or Sam Wilmes. Kocher can be reached at sarah.kocher@albertleatribune.com or 379-9852, and Wilmes can be reached at sam.wilmes@albertleatribune.com or 379-3435.

We hope to shine a spotlight on the debilitating effects that bullying can have on our own community members and how we — together — can come up with ongoing solutions and education for our students and residents.