Third grade student Bianca Perraglio holds a poster she made for Aspen’s Bully Prevention Poster Contest. Courtesy photo
Unity Day is Wednesday, Oct. 24 and the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month.
The goal of Unity Day is to come together against bullying and stand united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.
Bullying is one of the top concerns of the Los Alamos Public Schools’ Prevention Program. According to the 2017 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey report for Los Alamos County, 31.5 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported to have been bullied on school property.
Prevention Program Support Specialist Brandi Seekins has engaged all school sites and a number of community organizations to join together in a unified message of hope, visibly showing that our community believes no child should ever experience bullying.
On that Wednesday, you may find a sea of orange ribbons and t-shirts; students, staff and community members proudly wear the bright color to spark conversation and to send the supportive, universal message that bullying is never acceptable behavior. The LAPS Healthy Schools Initiative would like to emphasize the importance of defining bullying behaviors, understanding common misconceptions about bullying, and learning about what you can do to help.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The imbalance of power may be in strength, popularity, power or knowledge. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying can include spreading rumors and excluding others. It can happen in person or through an electronic device.
The person who is bullied may feel very upset and stop doing things they normally enjoy. They may be anxious, depressed and complain about stomach aches, headaches or have trouble sleeping. Bullying also affects students who are bystanders and observe bullying take place.
Common misconceptions about bullying:
Bullying is not something that kids need to experience to help them be tougher grownups. Being bullied does not make a person stronger; it makes them more likely to be anxious, depressed, and feel bad about themselves.
Have you heard any of the following?
- Bullying is a normal part of growing up – kids will be kids;
- Kids need to work out their own problems;
- If you just ignore it, things will get better;
- Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you;
- Girls don’t bully; and
- If you report bullying to a teacher, you’re a tattletale or a snitch.
How you can help:
Awareness is just the first step. Building positive environments, common expectations for behavior, and strong connections between youth and adults have all been shown to reduce bullying. One strategy of the HSI Prevention Program is to work with teachers, students, parents, and community members on discerning the difference between behaviors. For example, knowing when an action or comment is rude rather than bullying is an important distinction. A second strategy is to help youth and adults learn and practice appropriate responses to different behaviors. Mean or rude behavior can be stopped immediately with a clear, assertive response. People can be made aware of when joking around is no longer funny.
Bullying behavior should always be reported.
- Learn more about what is and what is not bullying;
- Use the school’s positive behavior support system as a guideline – Is it safe? Is it respectful? Is it responsible? Is it mindful?;
- Teach children the Stop, Walk and Talk skills – Raise your hand to stop unwanted behavior, Walk away if the behavior continues, Talk to a trusted adult when bullying happens. If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, tell an adult right away;
- Take reports of bullying from your child seriously;
- Communicate with school staff as soon as you are aware of a possible bullying situation;
- Work with the school team when trying to resolve bullying situations that involve your child;
- Become aware of how adults model or contribute to bullying behaviors; and
- Emphasize the importance of kindness.
- LAPS Reporting Tools
- Parent Guide, Center for Safe Schools
- Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
- Positive Behavior Support Bully Prevention