By NATALIJA MARSHALL, age 10
A “Bully Free Zone” sign, at a school in Berea, Ohio. PHOTO: Doktory/WikiMedia
One out of ten kids in elementary school (grades one to four) get bullied as often as every day, according to the anti-bullying website Coast Kids. A big portion of bullying occurs in areas such as the cafeteria, the playground, on school buses and in the hallways. Harassment through the use of cell phones, social media and the internet – or cyber-bullying – is another way kids are picked on. According to the National Education Association’s nationwide study of bullying, bullies tend to target kids who are non-conformists, different-looking, overweight, disabled, immigrants or who seem unlikely to defend themselves.
Bullying involves excluding someone from a group, threatening, name calling, hitting, kicking, spreading rumors, influencing relationships in a negative way and doing so in an intentional and repeated manner.
Why do kids bully in the first place? There are many reasons why kids choose to bully. Catherine Bradshaw, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says “[Bullying] provides these kids with a sense of power.” Sometimes, family issues, social issues or their own personal history may make kids feel like they don’t have power or control. Harassing other kids gives the bully a sense of power.
There are many ways to try and get out of a bullying situation. Websites such as the National Crime Prevention Council and eHow advise kids to stay strong, walk away from the bully and tell an adult. Kids can tell the bully to stop, but experts advise not to fight back with mean or cruel words because someone could get seriously hurt, either emotionally or physically. Kids who are shy might even try to tell a joke to lighten up the mood and possibly make new friends.