Addressing Bullying Head On
For parents, it is one of the greatest nightmares: someone harming their child, physically or emotionally. Imagine the nightmare the child endures.
Kayla*, 13 years old, was teased repeatedly for her appearance. Her peers and even adults ignored or dismissed the open harassment. She became withdrawn at home and started to talk about how her family would be better off without her. But she didn’t want to be identified to school authorities for fear of further retaliation.
What Kayla was facing was bullying – pure and simple. It has reached epidemic proportions in our community. If you want to understand how prevalent it has become, just turn on the news or listen to your children at the dinner table. You can’t escape the stories, each more heartbreaking than the next.
Bullying does not look the same as it did when we adults were growing up. With the technology of cell phones and computers, children are able to target one another immediately, impulsively, anonymously and virally.
Here are a few quick facts:
- Nearly one-third of youths are bullied at least once a month; 66 percent is teased.1
- Six out of 10 American teens witness bullying at least once a day.2
- For children in grades 6 – 10, nearly one in six — or 3.2 million — is a victim of bullying each year and 3.7 million are bullies.3
Last winter, JF&CS addressed the issue head on, hosting a workshop for youths and their parents on bullying and ways we can address it as a community. One of our presenters was Marina, a student at a local high school who had independently created and posted a video on YouTube about her personal experiences with bullying. Marina’s video is moving and poignant – she has become an advocate for anti-bullying in our community.
Kayla’s parents decided to tell the school about what was happening but kept her name anonymous in the hope that more adults at the school would watch out for her well-being. When Kayla moved on to high school, the bullying ended but the memories of the shame and fear still remain. How would you feel if this was happening to your child?
- Tags: Awareness, Bullying, Depression, Education, Family, Kids, Parenting, Stigma, Tools for Families
About the Author
Sheri Panovka is JF&CS' Marketing Communications Coordinator. As one of JF&CS' principal writers, writes for the printed publications, enewsletters, synagogue bulletins, website and many of our events.