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Many of us experienced bullying when we were children or teens, and most of us know someone who has been a victim of bullying.

 October 1 kicks off National Bullying Prevention Month. This is a great time to clarify what bullying is: it is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time (www.stopbullying.gov).

 National studies estimate that between 20-28% of 6th-12th graders experience bullying. The National Crime Prevention Council notes that bullying can be a gateway behavior. Nearly 60% of boys in grades 6-9 were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24, while 40% had three or more convictions (http://www.ncpc.org/topics/bullying).

 PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center reports that more than 160,000 students stay home from school each day because of their fear of being bullied (http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/).

 Bullying can be verbal, social, or physical. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t necessarily stop when people reach adulthood. Even adult relationships can experience bullying.

 So what can we do?

  • Support bullying prevention programs in the schools. If your children’s schools don’t have programs, consider starting one.
  • Take bullying seriously. Ask your children about “teasing” and how it makes them feel.
  • Teach students nonviolent ways to deal with bullies. Help children act with confidence.
  • Assure that students have strategies to stay safe, such as staying around other students or adults and reporting threats.

 Visit the following websites for more information on this challenging issue:

www.pacer.org/bullying

www.ncpc.org/topics/bullying

www.stopbullying.gov

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