Bullying in schools is often considered an unfortunate, but somewhat unavoidable, part of childhood. As parents, we may look back at our time as students and recall when a friend, classmate, or we ourselves were bullied. Perhaps you have even supported your child as they have gone through their own experiences with bullying. News stories on traditional and social media platforms seem to suggest that bullying is getting worse in our schools.
The good news is that research released last month by my Children's Hospital of Philadelphia colleague Tracy Waasdorp, PhD, MEd and her co-authors confirms that this is not the case. A 10 year study fourth through twelfth grade students in Maryland schools revealed that rates of all forms of bullying (physical, relational, and cyber) decreased. This is incredibly encouraging, and is a true testament to the work of school administrations, bullying prevention experts, and most importantly you, as parents and caregivers, to create a culture in homes, schools, and communities where peer bullying is not acceptable.
While there is a lot to be proud of, it is also important to acknowledge that our work is not done. In the current study, 48 percent of students report that bullying is a problem and nearly 40 percent indicate they witness bullying behaviors.
So where do we go from here? Here are a few simple, but important steps you can take to ensure your child is protected from bullying: