Watch any high school movie and you’ll see bullying as a major plot point. Unfortunately, high school bullying is just as present in the real world. Today, it takes many forms — verbal, social, and physical — and it’s happening at school, after school, and online. Here are the facts:
- The School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that, nationwide, about 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.
- The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.
- The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Taking a stand
That’s why Amazing Smiles takes a stand against bullying, and works to empower our patients to take that same stand. As students head back to school, we’re sharing four ways to help prevent bullying:
Help kids (and teens) understand bullying
Those who know what bullying is can better identify it and can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids and teens need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.
Keep the lines of communication open
Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting teens. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to encourage your teenagers to answer them honestly. Assure them that they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise.
Encourage kids (and teens) to do what they love
Encourage your kids to take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. They can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect others from bullying.
Model how to treat others with kindness and respect
Kids and teens learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show younger generations that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids and teens are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.
In the community
Every year, members of the Amazing Smiles team visit schools, host field trips, and support organizations that give us a chance to teach kids how to identify and shut down bullying. Together, we hope we can end the worldwide issue of bullying so everyone can grow up feeling safe, valued, and loved.