October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

My niece was bullied by girls at her public school in a southern state – all because she was different.  She is smart, loves to read, played an instrument on the school band and played tennis, but she didn’t like rap music.  She eventually had to leave the school.  Sounds extreme but incidents like this happen all too often.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and it’s a perfect time to raise awareness and prevent bullying in our schools and communities.   According to the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, there is no one definition of bullying.  In general, “bullying” refers to meanness or cruelty among school-aged youth.   The DC Office of Human Rights also defines bullying as unwanted, aggressive behavior among youth that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  What is a power imbalance you may ask?  Kids who bully use their power – such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity – to control or harm others.

Bullying behavior is usually repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time.  And bullying may be based on, but is not limited to, a specific personal characteristic such as race, gender, national origin, color, sexual orientation, personal appearance, disability, gender identity or expression or familial status – usually a single individual with children or pregnant women.

Help prevent bullying by paying attention to which youth may be at-risk.  Always address inappropriate behavior so it does not escalate.   Provide support to youth who are bullied or who bully others as both can lead to serious long-lasting problems.

The Citywide Youth Bullying Prevention Program created in June 2013, aims to reduce incidents of bullying across the District by emphasizing prevention and proper procedures for responding when incidents occur.  All schools, DC youth serving agencies and non-profit organizations are required to have a bullying prevention policy.  Ask to see it, so you can help prevent bullying in your community.  For more information on bullying prevention click here or visit the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.

Audrey Williams is Manager of Intergovernmental Relations & School Support at PCSB.  

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