Discussions and arguments abound about bullying. Is it just a part of growing up - or is it an abusive behavior that has serious consequences for those involved?
Some students who are targeted by bullies report low self-esteem, depression, living in fear, poor academic achievement and emotional turmoil. Witnesses to bullying suffer from feelings of helplessness and poor coping and problem-solving skills.
What about the bully - what does he or she face? How about poor social and emotional adjustment, poor performance in school and maybe an increased likelihood to commit crimes later in life.
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is working with various school systems to research and determine what anti-bullying programs may be best suited to their area. While LifeSkills is not specifically targeted to bullying, we've learned it has a section in its curriculum on bullying.
The board likes this program because it teaches respect, which appears to be lacking in many behaviors against an individual. Domestic violence comes to mind. A man (or woman) who respects their loved one doesn't hit them! If youth respect their fellow students, they will behave in a manner that is non-threatening and supportive rather than nasty!
A second program that the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is researching is known as the Olweus program. This is much more geared toward anti-bullying attitudes and behaviors. It has a high success rate because it involves the entire school system and community.
A lesson learned is that we can't send an expert to a school who spends three days, leaves and expects behaviors to be modified. To promote good behavior and respect is a full-time job of everyone involved in a child's life.
Yes, bullying is a part of growing up - a part we want to leave behind as quickly as possible!
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. It has a website, www.mhrsbssw.org, and a link to our Facebook page. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board's hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.