Bullying Defined: What it is, how to stop it

Thousands of students don't want to go to school because they are afraid. October is bullying prevention awareness month.

A nationwide survey found about 20-percent of junior high and high school students experienced some kind of bullying.

"Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time," according to stopbullying.gov.

WHAT IS BULLYING?

Bullying can be teasing and name-calling, exclusion and isolation or even causing physical harm. The Chicago Public Schools code of conduct describes bullying as "verbal or non-verbal behavior that occurs repeatedly over time, and causes physical and/or emotional harm to another. Such behavior may include, but is not limited to teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting, stealing or destroying personal property."

Cyberbullying happens through electronic devices and social media networks 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

WARNING SIGNS:

Signs that child is being bullied include: unexplained injuries, lost items, illness, changes in eating habits, difficulty sleeping, declining grades, loss of friends and self-destructive behaviors. Signs that a child is bullying others: verbal and physical fighting, friends with other bullies, increasingly aggressive behavior, unexplained extra money or items, unwillingness to accept responsibility and concerned about reputation and popularity.

Bullying often involves more than just the victim and the bully. Other children can assist and reinforce the problem, while even bystanders can create an audience.

RESPONDING TO BULLYING / PREVENTING BULLYING

Experts said adults need to respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior and children need to speak up for others.

Preventing bullying requires involvement both in the schools, at home and in the community. StompOutBullying.org is the leading anti-bullying organization in the nation. The group is behind Blue Shirt Day, where people are encouraged to wear blue shirts on the first Monday to create awareness. The organization also offers a LIVE HelpChat Line.

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