Can You Stand Up to Bullying?
By Mary Ellen Flannery
Just one caring adult can make all the difference in the world to a bullied child, research shows. One caring adult can keep them from dropping out of school. One caring adult can even save their life.
NEA is asking you to be that adult.
NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me, a campaign against bullying, which launches today, is asking adults at schools and in communities to take the Bully Free pledge and identify yourself as a caring adult.
When you do so, you agree…
To be identified as a caring adult who pledges to help bullied students… to listen carefully to all students who seek my help and act on their behalf to put an immediate stop to the bullying (and) to work with other caring adults to create a safe learning environment for all the students in my school.
“Children who decided to live had at least one caring adult to talk to. They had at least one adult who didn’t tell them they were imagining things. There was one adult who didn’t tell them to ignore it and it would go away (it doesn’t),” recently wrote NEA Vice-President Lily Eskelsen in her blog Lily’s Blackboard. “They had one adult who said, ‘I believe you. You don’t deserve this. I’m going to try and stop this.’”
Stopping bullying is critical to NEA’s mission of ensuring a quality education for every student. Because when kids are bullied, they can’t learn – and the experience “exacts scars that can last a lifetime,” notes NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. We know that the victims of bullies are more likely to fall behind in classes, miss school, and eventually drop out. We owe them more that that.
But the problem is wide spread and getting worse as it migrates to increasingly younger grades. A recent survey of Massachusetts third-graders found that 47 percent had been bullied at least once, more than half said they’d been called names or teased in a hurtful way. Especially for students with disabilities, or students who can’t conform to traditional gender expectations, bullying is a too-common experience that pushes students to the very edge.
Bullycide is the word for it.
At the campaign’s website, NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me also provides resources, tip sheets and relevant research to teachers and education support professionals who want to know more about bullying. For example, check out the “Six Tips for Educators Dealing with Bullying,” or the new “Focus on Women” publication about girls and bullying.
Says Van Roekel: “It is our shared responsibility to make sure every child can attend a safe public school.”