This and every October is National Bullying Prevention Month. I wanted to reach out to families throughout the district and let them know about what to look for if your feel you child is being bullied, how to participate in nationwide anti-bullying campaigns, and what to do if believe your child is involved in bullying.
Just last year Broadview Middle School in Danbury started a program called “Start with Hello,” which has gained national recognition. Simply put, inclusion starts with a “hello.”
Nearly 1,000 schools registered to participate in Start with Hello, and 100 joined in a competition to show how they’re including it in their culture.
The acts of bullying can occur in several ways. They can be verbal, physical, online social networks (Facebook, etc.), via text messages, or even as a result of social exclusion. Bullying can also include physical assault, threats, or intimidation.
In 2014, the Danbury Board of Education included a new bullying policy which adds social media considerations to the definition of bullying in the middle-school code. The policy also calls for a minimum one day out-of-school suspension for a student found guilty of bullying instead of three days of in-school suspension as before.
Bullying can severely affect a person’s confidence, own self-image, and performance in school. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In addition, students who participate in bullying are at an increased risk of committing crimes, abusing alcohol and drugs, dropping out of school, and fighting.
According to Stopbullying.gov, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, whereas 30.8% reported bullying others during that time.
Warning signs that your child might be bullied include:
- Refusal to go to school (afraid of riding the bus)
- Changes in school performance
- Sudden personality changes (sad, depressed, upset)
- Vocalizing suicidal thoughts (“No one would miss me if I wasn’t alive”)
- Avoiding interaction with other classmates and friends
The site also states that only approximately 20 – 30% of students who are bullied actually notify adults about the bullying.
This year’s “Unity Day” will take place on Wednesday, October 25th. I’d like to encourage you to wear orange on this day as a display of love, hope, support and unity against bullying.