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Sean D. Reyes
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National Bullying Prevention Month

October 19, 2020

Everyone knows or has known a bully in their lifetime, and the psychological impact affects generations of people. The internet has empowered online bullies, and cyberbullies have become a significant problem.  This is why – as we observe National Bullying Prevention Month – the Utah Attorney General’s office is placing an emphasis on preventing cyberbullying.

With more time spent at home away from school, clubs, or in-person social interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, children have more screen time, increased susceptibility to cyberbullying, and are more likely to participate in cyberbullying than their peers.

According to the American Adolescent Psychiatric Association, “stress and mental health conditions may be exacerbated by cyberbullying, particularly among those who have experienced emotional abuse.’

Cyberbullying includes mean text messages or emails, rumors spread through social networking platforms, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.  

In 2017, 15.5% of students were cyberbullied, and 20.2% were bullied on school property, according to the Center for Disease Control. In addition, the number of individuals who experienced cyberbullying nearly doubled from 2007 to 2016.

Children who experience bullying can have long-lasting detrimental effects on their mental and physical health and are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, decreased academic achievement, substance abuse, and suicide.

This month, we encourage you to learn the signs of bullying, encourage children to stand up for those who are being bullied and teach kindness to one another.

Signs a Child is Being Bullied

  • Declining grades and not wanting to attend school
  • Feelings of helplessness and decreased self-esteem
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty sleeping or increased nightmares
  • Frequent headaches, stomach aches, and frequently feeling sick
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, self-harm, or talk of suicide

Tips for Preventing Bullying

  • Talk to kids about bullying. Talk to your children about what bullying is and that it is totally unacceptable, whether you bully someone in-person or online. Teach them that if they wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t text or post it in any way.
  • Keep the communication lines open. Make sure your children know they can come to talk to you. Listen to them and understand their concerns. Get to know their friends and what goes on during school. If they aren’t comfortable sharing everything with you, make sure they know they can talk to another trusted adult and have adequate resources if they are struggling.
  • Encourage kids to do what they love. Help your children participate in hobbies, interests, and activities that make them happy. Whether it be a club, choir, or youth group, it’s important children have a chance to have fun and be around other children who share their interests. They can make friends who can support and protect them from being bullied.
  • Be an example. Children learn from observing those around them. Make sure you yourself are treating others around you with kindness and respect. Whether you realize it or not, your children are watching how you manage stress and how you treat your friends, colleagues, and family.

Additional Resources

Choose Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion: National Bullying Prevention Month

October 18, 2018

This month we observe National Bullying Prevention Month. The Utah Attorney General’s Office urges Utahns to choose kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.

Bullying impacts children of all ages. According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, up to a third of students in the United States report being bullied at school. Additionally, in an increasingly digital age, cyberbullying has become a significant problem.

Bullying can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on a child’s mental and physical health. A child who is bullied is more likely to experience depression and anxiety, decreased academic achievement, substance abuse, and suicide.

Bullying prevention starts with you. Be kind to others and be proactive in shifting the prevalence of bullying in our schools and communities. Bullying is a behavioral style which must be – and can be – addressed through education and support.

Encourage children to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. Teach children to stand appropriately to kids who are bullying others. Most importantly, teach kindness and urge children to reach out to others who are being bullied.

Below are some additional resources to help prevent bullying:

Download the SafeUT App. This app, which the AG’s Office helped create, is available to students and parents and provides real-time help to youth through texting and a private space to submit tips about bullies in their schools. 

Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition is a local non-profit that provides training for students, parents, and educators. Their goal is to end bullying through kindness. 

Utah Parent Center provides information and resources to help parents better understand bullying, its impact, and strategies for prevention. 

Utah Legislation specifically addresses bullying in the state as well as requirements to educators about their role in creating bully-free environments.

If you see something, say something. Be kind and be part of the change. Preventing bullying starts with you.