Lankard: Bullying is not a normal part of growing up

No child should be afraid of going to school, waiting at a bus stop or going to the restroom or locker room alone, and yet it can happen if they are being bullied.

Bullying is not a fact of life. It is not a normal part of growing up. It is a form of abuse, harassment and violence.

Both boys and girls can be bullies. Boys tend to be more direct ꟷ hitting, kicking or making insults, sneering comments or threats.

Girls usually are less physical ꟷ excluding someone from a group, backbiting and manipulating friendships.

If you live with or work with children, there is a helpful app you can download on your mobile phone ꟷ KnowBullying. Designed by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), it offers suggestions for starting easy, meaningful conversations with your children; tips to learn strategies to prevent bullying for ages 3-6, 7-13 and teens; warning signs that help you teach children how to recognize if they are being bullied, witnessing bullying or engaging in bullying; reminders about finding the best time to talk about it with your child, successful strategies, and useful advice via Facebook, Twitter, email and text messages.

There also is a section for educators to aid them in preventing bullying in the classroom and how to support children who are being bullied.

Bystanders are not innocent if they are watching, laughing or not getting the victim help. The only way bullying prevention can be successful is intervention and consistent messages by the whole community that “bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.” Not in our homes, our workplaces or our school.