It’s time to stand up to bullying
*This article was provided by The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office as part of the KTAR News 92.3 BullyFreeAZ.com Campaign
A lot of us grew up in a time when bullying, already common in schools and on playgrounds, was thought to be “kids being kids.” Victims were expected to deal with it and “toughen up.” A lot of us also grew up without the presence of social media, a medium that keeps kids connected to each other at all times of the day. As adults, our perspective and knowledge of bullying may not be in line with today’s reality.
How seriously would you take a teenager’s sullen social media post that claims their “life is over?” How about one where they say something happened and now they just “want to die?” What if next time they post a picture of the pills they plan to take or the weapon they plan to use? It’s hard to tell what moment is the right one, when should someone say something or intervene? Now imagine you’re trying to figure out these answers as a teenager.
For many us well past our high school years, the school bully was only a threat until you were able to run home and close your front door. We knew once we were home we were safe at least for a few precious hours until next school day. However, for today’s youth, bullies are on social media every hour of the day.
Why We Should Care
- 1 in 4 kids are experiencing bullying
- Every 7 minutes a child is bullied.
- Each day an estimated 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied.
- Each month, 282,000 students are physically attacked in high schools.
What is most alarming is that, statistically, an adult intervenes only 4 percent of the time, peer intervention occurs only about 11 percent of the time, and sadly, 85 percent of the time there is no intervention at all.
Without realizing it, the most influential person to stop a bullying situation is the bystander -the person watching it. Bystanders are a very powerful group who can take power away from the bully. When a bystander stays silent they are contributing to the problem by giving the bully a sense of approval.
What You Can Do
If you witness someone being bullied there are several things you can do:
- Help the victim get away from the bullying situation
- Tell the bully to stop
- Get help from a trusted adult
- Befriend the target/victim
Bullying Can Be A Crime
Did you know that there are forms of bullying and cyberbullying that can be considered a criminal act? Cruel intentions have consequences that may lead to jail time or that could prevent a young person from attending college, or pursuing many career paths.
Bullying can become a crime if a person:
- Is physically assaulting someone
- Is harassing someone (especially based on gender or racism)
- Is making violent threats
- Is stealing
- Is committing a hate crime
- Is “sexting”
- Is taking a photo of someone in a place where they expect privacy
- Is extortion
Get Educated About Bullying
There are numerous local and national resources you can draw from to help stop bullying in our community. My office has compiled many of them right here at SafeTeensAZ.org.
Editor’s Note: KTAR News 92.3 has teamed up with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the Earnhardt Family’s NoBull.com for the 2nd year of our “BullyFreeAZ” campaign. Get involved at www.BullyFreeAZ.com.