October is National Bullying Prevention Month

“Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.” (stopbullying.gov)

Bullying. We hold on to the 1950s image of the big kid on the playground taunting, name calling, pushing, and intimidating other children. While that image still has validity, bullying is not the exclusive domain of boys nor is it necessarily one child bullying other children, as stories of peer group bullying in the national media have shown. Even the landscape of bullying has changed.

According to DoSomething.org, bullying occurs mostly in schools, on the bus, and in neighborhoods. However, bullying has reached beyond the traditional school grounds and now includes harassing or intimidating someone by text message, e-mail or posts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. (DoSomething.org) For a child being bullied, it can be an intense and pervasive experience starting from walking to school in the morning and lasting until an electronic device is shut down before bedtime.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Tween and teen stars, politicians, school officials, and community leaders are bringing attention to this national problem. They share resources for tweens and teens, stories of bullying experiences, and facts about bullying in this country.

For our community, it is an opportunity for us to listen to our teens and young adults share their unique stories of being bullied because of their hydrocephalus and to give them the proper tools they need to respond effectively. It is also a chance for us to learn, for parents of young children to prepare, and for all of us to support each other.

  • More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied. (Pacer Center)
  • The most common reason cited for being harassed is a student’s appearance or body size. 2 out of 5 teens feel that they are bullied because of the way that they look. (DoSomething.org)

 

People used to call me a “water head” from the time I was born until elementary school (even after I had my shunt placed at eleven days old). When I was a freshman in high school, the distal catheter in my neck broke. When I came back from having my first shunt revision after Christmas, some of my classmates made jokes about me because they thought that I had cancer, when really I had to have my head shaved due to the shunt revision. After my freshman year, people realized that I was just like any other high school student, but I had lifelong limitations including cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and visual deficits. Now, I am a freshman in college, and people ask me questions (as they should) instead of bully or stare and make me look like an idiot.

Sara, age 19

 

  • Bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied find it difficult to concentrate, show a decline in grades, and lose self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. (Pacer Center)
  • Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students. (Pacer Center)
  • Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. (Pacer Center)

 

The situation started when I was talking to one of my friend’s about my condition. I told my friend that I have somewhat of a bump on my head due to the shunt. The bully, when hearing this, called me a nobby-headed freak. This name calling continued for several weeks, making me very upset. Then upon talking to my Grandfather about the situation, he gave me the idea of talking to the bully and telling him how hard it is to live with hydrocephalus. After I explained everything, he stopped.

Wyatt, age 17

  • 56% of students have personally felt some sort of bullying at school. Between 4th and 8th grade in particular, 90% of students are victims of bullying. (DoSomething.org)
  • In some cases, bullying has led to devastating consequences, such as school shootings and suicide. (Pacer Center)

 

I was first diagnosed with hydrocephalus at the age of 10 and shunted at 11. Prior to heading in for surgery, another student stated, “I hope you die.” At such a young age, it was shocking to hear another kid say those words.

Jennifer, age 24

  • Bullying is a community wide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture. (Pacer Center)

 

It can happen at any age from my experience! And it was due to my having hydrocephalus. Personally I have never told my employers off-the-bat that I had hydrocephalus because in the past I have had several problems with management and co-workers afterwards. I had one manager at a job I worked for flat out mock me and make fun of me in front of co-workers and customers. Right after, I burst out into tears trying to explain to him I had a medical condition. Some people never grow up.

Jasmin, early 20s

One of the best ways to begin to make change is to provide the tools individuals and parents need to address bullying. Below is a list of organizations that provide suggestions, ideas, and advice for victims of bullying. Take a look! If you’re a parent, take some time this weekend and visit these sites together. Some of the sites are really interactive and engage kids through videos, petitions, and informational graphics.

General Information and Resources

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

American Academy of Children & Adolescents Psychiatry (AACAP)


PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center


30 Seconds: AAPD’s Campaign to Stop Bullying


StopBullying.gov


KidsHealth.org

 

Support and Resources for Kids

PACER Center’s Kids Against Bullying


 

Support and Resources for Teens and Young Adults

PACER Center Teens Against Bullying

Teens Health

Do Something.org

 

We shared a number of facts throughout the blog. Many of these are graphics that we are posting on Facebook. We encourage you to spread the word on your Facebook page as well as sharing the tips and resources with your loved ones.

Let’s put a stop to bullying!

 

Additional Sources:
Pacer Center
DoSomething.org
NASP Resources
Make Beats, Not Beat Downs
Stop Cyber Bullying
Love to Know
New York State School Counselor Association
National Crime Prevention
Internet Safety 101
Stomp Out Bullying
End Cyber Bullying