Technology has become a deadly weapon for bullies as they send video recordings or picture messaging to other cell phones and over the Internet. The ramifications of cyberbullying are so far-reaching that some victims feel they can’t ever recover from the humiliation or the hurt, so they take their own lives. Bullies are being held accountable for their actions and charged as criminals, but it has only been after many reported deaths that our society has said “no more.” We are finally coming together and forming a united front against bullying, which can start with young children as teasing or hurtful words.

Bullies have been around forever, but they are now making news headlines as their behavior results in the death of others.

Technology has become a deadly weapon for bullies as they send video recordings or picture messaging to other cell phones and over the Internet. The ramifications of cyberbullying are so far-reaching that some victims feel they can’t ever recover from the humiliation or the hurt, so they take their own lives.

Bullies are being held accountable for their actions and charged as criminals, but it has only been after many reported deaths that our society has said “no more.” We are finally coming together and forming a united front against bullying, which can start with young children as teasing or hurtful words.

Taking action

In my home state of Ohio, the Ohio Statute on Bullying in the Schools was created in 2007. It requires local boards of education to establish anti-bullying policies and procedures, including protection strategies and disciplinary procedures. In addition, school districts are encouraged to form bullying prevention task forces, and provide training around these issues.

Unfortunately, many school administrators feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Others are confused, reporting that they already have behavioral standards and wonder why they need to create new policies and procedures. The truth is that there is no easy answer, no simple solution. Bullying is pervasive and dangerous, with long-term, negative effects for both the targets and the bullies.

One school district set up a hotline for students and families to call if they wanted to discuss or report bullying and the lines were filled with adults asking how to deal with their own bullying situations. Simply establishing rules and consequences in our schools will never be enough.  Everyone needs to acknowledge the problem and do their part to change our culture.

Schools definitely need to have clear definitions and procedures in place with firm consequences that are consistently implemented. Regrettably, research indicates that adults are only aware of 5 to 20 percent of the bullying incidents that occur. Most students do not report being bullied for two simple reasons: the belief that nothing will be done to help or protect them and fear that the bullying will escalate.  

Training needed

Multifaceted strategies to reduce bullying in schools are more likely to succeed than single component programs. System-wide training, monitoring and assessment; classroom focus on reinforcing rules and building social-emotional skills; and specific interventions, beyond punishment, for students who are targets or perpetrators of bullying, are all needed simultaneously.  

Dr. Bobbi Beale, PsyD of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health in Canton, Ohio, provided information for this column.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio. Send your child-rearing questions to Family Matters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources, along with links to all of her columns, at Diana Boggia’s website, www.yourperfectchild.com.