It’s time to end the stigma of being bullied.
The statistics are staggering. 70% of kids witness bullying. (http://nobullying.com/bullying-statistics-2014/) 10% of teens drop out because of bullying, Yet only 20 to 30% of kids who are bullied tell someone.
This non-reporting is a problem because bullying stops fairly quickly if someone intervenes in it. There are lots of reasons why victims of bullying don’t report what is happening to them.
- They may have tried before and it only made things worse. If you have read my book, you know that an escalation of behavior is expected when you first try to get a bully to stop and that we have to start teaching kids how to deal with that!
- They may not understand they are being bullied. Kids aren’t adults. They don’t think like adults and they don’t have the experience adults have with a variety of peer behavior. They don’t necessarily know what is normal and ok behavior and what isn’t. It isn’t unusual to tell a kid who is being bullied that they are being bullied and have them be incredulous about it. Usually though, once they are able to put a label to the behavior that was making them uncomfortable, they feel relieved. What is happening isn’t ok and they can and should do something about it. It isn’t just them not liking it.
- A big reason why kids don’t report though is that they are embarrassed to. They don’t want their peers or parents to know that they are struggling or that people don’t like them or are treating them bad. Social status is a very fragile thing. Being singled out by a bully reduces your social status. It is no wonder that kids don’t want to admit to this in other settings where it isn’t happening.
Parents are just as bad. I’ve helped lots of parents help their kids stop bullying. And yet very few give referrals. Once their problem is solved, they don’t want to think about it anymore and they don’t want to admit that their kid suffered socially. There is a stigma against victims of bullying. Kids who bully have high social status and their victims don’t. No one wants to admit to being bullied.
If we are ever going to be able to tackle this social problem, which affects all aspects of our society, we have to start talking about it. We have to start sharing information on what works to get it to stop so that kids can get the help they need to get the bullying being directed at them to stop. We have to eliminate the stigma so that victims don’t feel so alone. They aren’t alone. Most people experience this at some point.
Just as talking about it is helping to eliminate the stigma about mental illness, so too will talking about bullying help eliminate the stigma of being victimized. And as soon as victims are no longer considered toxic – bullies will lose their power.
Please share this website with your friends and help get the word out about how behavioral science can be used to get bullying to stop.