Last month was National Cyberbullying Prevention Month
It is difficult to remember a time in which bullying was not a prevalent issue in schools. From name-calling, aggressive behavior, intimidation, teasing, and the list goes on. However, in recent times we have had the abrupt introduction of social media and cell phones enhancing the severity of bullying. How many teenagers, let alone children, do you see with smartphones nowadays? Instead of exclusively facing a bully during the 8-hour school day, we now see teenagers and children facing these battles day and night. According to Cyberbullying Research Center, it may surprise you to know that from the years 2016-2019, bullying has increased by 35%. Even with schools emphasizing educating parents, students, and faculty, bullying has become increasingly widespread.
I spoke with one of Beech Grove Middle School’s advisors, Mr. LaDarrius Calvin, to gain some more insight on the matter. Mr. Calvin deals with student relations and issues; therefore, he has firsthand knowledge of bullying in the school system. Mr. Calvin mentioned how bullying is a series of negative actions or comments from one party to another, happening more than once. To sort through the contrasting stories that could become involved, he gives an opening ear to both parties, letting them tell their side. Mr. Calvin said the majority of the time; a bullying incident occurs between two friends who had a misunderstanding through miscommunication. He serves as a mediator in these events, helping to mend the relationship and letting each side see where the other is coming from. In more severe cases of bullying, he said the bully is acting out of emotional distress, mental health issues, or simply acting out from learned behaviors by guardians or adults. Therefore, it is also important to listen to the person acting out as a bully, help them in their circumstance, and then place an appropriate punishment.
I asked him about the 35% increase in bullying spanning three years, and he was not surprised. He stated this increase most likely comes from cyberbullying because younger kids are given social media access. He mentioned how children of all ages use social media without knowing how to use the platforms properly. This leads to children using social media as a sort of journal, ultimately “exposing themselves” unknowingly. Other children, therefore, can use this information against them. Teaching how to use social media effectively and safely can be a huge step in reducing cyberbullying.
I asked him what Beech Grove Middle School is doing to help educate students on bullying and bullying prevention. Although there is no required curriculum or standard to educate on bullying in Indiana, Beech Grove Middle School is taking its steps through SEL, which stands for social and emotional learning. Social and emotional learning is equally as important as academics. He says they educate students on handling and regulating their emotions, coping mechanisms, meditation, and breathing practices to help ease their minds. As well, they emphasize 21st-century scholars and opportunities in the community during this time.
Mr. Calvin shed light on the importance of teaching students these social and emotional skills at an earlier age. These methods such as journaling, meditation, breathwork, positive self-talk, discussing openly about emotions, and coping with them can benefit anyone of all ages. Although social and emotional development may not end bullying altogether, it can stop the exponential growth we are currently seeing.
LaDarrius Calvin, Vice President of Boys II Men
Written by: Myaa McKee, Executive Assistant at the Law Office of Mark Nicholson
Patchin, J. W. (2019, May 30). School bullying rates increase by 35% from 2016 to 2019. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved from https://cyberbullying.org/school-bullying-rates-increase-by-35-from-2016-to-2019.