Every October, communities around the country participate in National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. This year, a new resource from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) is available to support awareness month activities. Building Capacity to Reduce Bullying is a new report summarizing a two-day workshop that was held on April 9-10, 2014. The workshop was sponsored by the Health Resources and Service Administration and examined ways to prevent bullying. Over 20 experts shared research to explore why bullying happens and what can be done to stop it. Representatives from several schools, community-based organizations, and public agencies attended the workshop in-person and online. An archive of the full workshop can be found at the Institute of Medicine website.
The summary report describes key findings from the workshop presentations and discussions. It has sections on how to understand bullying, how to prevent it, and what we can do to learn more about bullying. The summary includes chapters about schools, students, families, and communities. You can download a free copy of the summary at the National Academies Press website.
The summary tells us:
- Bullying is common. Between 20 to 30 percent of children report being bullied at least once in the past year.
- Bullying is preventable. Consistent discipline can reduce bullying. So can information and training for parents and teachers. Having just one friend makes it less likely that a child will be bullied.
- Bullying gets under the skin. It harms the health of children who are bullied and of those who bully. Even bystanders may feel more anxious and insecure when they see bullying.
- Bullying is connected to other types of violence and aggression throughout a child’s life. Children who bully have often seen or experienced family violence. Bullying and teen dating violence are linked. There is also a connection between bullying and sexual harassment.
- Bullying affects the community. It creates a negative school climate. It is linked to later substance abuse in victims who may use alcohol and drugs to cope with emotional pain. Boys who bully are more likely to be involved in crime as adults.
- The community can prevent bullying. Schools can create a sense of belonging. They can also support norms against bullying. Students can show respect for one another. Parents can set an example by being kind. They can also talk with their children and work with schools to address bullying.
We all have a responsibility to stop bullying. This workshop summary helps us to understand why bullying prevention is so important. It shows us what steps we can take to reduce bullying. And it reminds us that we still have a lot to learn about bullying. Most of all, it supports the theme of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month: “The end of bullying begins with me.”