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School in Full Swing: Avoiding Slings, Arrows of Bullying

About 22 percent of students ages 12 to 18 report being bullied at school. Credit: cynthia357/Morguefile
About 22 percent of students ages 12 to 18 report being bullied at school. Credit: cynthia357/Morguefile
September 28, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With back to school excitement winding down in Illinois, now is the time that bullying can rear its ugly head.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows about 22 percent of students ages 12 to 18 report being bullied at school.

Anne Studzinski, managing director of the Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition, says sometimes a victim can brush off bullying behavior, but for others the situation can stray into the realm of childhood trauma.

"When it gets into a child is having nightmares, kids that are afraid to ride the bus, kids that are afraid to use the bathroom at school because those are the places where some of that face-to-face bullying happens, and then when you start to see self-destructive behavior in kids, running away, harming themselves," she says.

Studzinski notes that bullying today goes beyond the schoolyard, and students can be harassed online. And she says cyber bullying is especially difficult because it can happen 24/7, involve many people, and be done anonymously.

The Look Through Their Eyes.org website offers warnings signs of bullying, along with tips and resources to help children who have been the victim of a bully.

Starting at an early age, Studzinski recommends parents teach good social skills and help foster resilience in their children. Both, she says, can help them if the child is bullied.

"But also it helps you protect yourself from raising a bully,” she stresses. “Making sure that your kid can navigate the social ups and downs of childhood as well as any other kid."

Studzinski says structured activities such as sports or scouting can help a child build lasting friendships that can offer protection from the slings and arrows of bullies. And she also suggests parents make a point to know the teachers, coaches, and other adults involved in their child's life.

"It helps to have an accompanying circle of adults who care about the kid, so that as a parent you can approach somebody and say, 'Uh, I'm afraid this is going on, what are you seeing, what are you hearing, what can we do together?'" she says.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL