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Bullying is never okay.
It is not just kids being kids. It is not simply part of growing up. It is harmful and destructive and a major challenge to mental health.
That’s why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education are sponsoring a special website www.stopbullying.gov offering resources to support initiatives to end bullying in schools and other communities.
Between now and Oct. 14, the federal partners are inviting youth ages 13 to 18 to create 30- and 60-second public service announcements. Video submissions need to showcase ways that young people are taking action against bullying and promoting kindness and respect. Three winning videos will be featured on the stopbullying.gov website. The grand prize winner will receive $2,000 and two other honorable mention videos will each receive $500.
What exactly is bullying?
Bullying is unwanted and aggressive behavior that happens repeatedly and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. The power imbalance usually involves someone using physical strength, greater popularity or embarrassing or humiliating information to control or harm another person.
Bullying can take many forms. It can be done with words, including repeated teasing, name-calling, threats and inappropriate sexual comments. It can be done through social interactions—repeatedly and intentionally excluding someone from a group, telling other kids not to be friends with someone or spreading rumors and embarrassing a targeted person in public. It can also be done by hurting another person physically or vandalizing possessions.
Bullying can take place in school, on the bus, in neighborhoods and, increasingly on electronic devices. Cyber bullying on the Internet gives some youth a sense of security because they are able to hide behind a computer screen. Because most kids now communicate with peers primarily through cell phones and computers, bullying messages, photos and other information can quickly “go viral” throughout the Internet.
Bullies target peers whom they often see as different, alone or in some way weak. In the long run, bullying not only hurts those who are bullied, but also those who witness it and the bullies themselves. It can destroy self-esteem and damage their ability to function in adulthood.
What can be done about it? Parents and caregivers can talk with their kids about bullying so that they understand it and recognize that it is not okay. They can give their kids advice about what to do if they are bullied or if they see someone else being bullied. Here are some things to share with kids:
In safe circumstances, standing up or speaking out against bullying behavior when it occurs can rob the bully of much of his/her power.
Bullying should never be ignored. More than 20 percent of high school students report being bullied in any given year. It leads to higher rates of depression and anxiety and contributes to many suicides
Let’s all take the stop bullying challenge (make a video if you can!) and put an end to bullying.
We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.
Check out our Submission Guidelines for more information.
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