- More than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).
- The federal government began collecting data on school bullying in 2005, when the prevalence of bullying was around 28 percent (U.S. Department of Education, 2015).
- Rates of bullying vary across studies (from 9% to 98%). A meta-analysis of 80 studies analyzing bullying involvement rates (for both bullying others and being bullied) for 12-18 year old students reported a mean prevalence rate of 35% for traditional bullying involvement and 15% for cyberbullying involvement (Modecki, Minchin, Harbaugh, Guerra, & Runions, 2014).
- 64% of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36% reported the bullying (Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, & Hanson, 2010).
- More than half of bullying situations (57%) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001).
- School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25% (McCallion & Feder, 2013).
- The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students were looks (55%), body shape (37%), and race (16%) (Davis & Nixon, 2010).
Effects of Bullying
- Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression (Center for Disease Control, 2015).
- Students who engage in bullying behavior are at increased risk for academic problems, substance use, and violent behavior later in adolescence and adulthood (Center for Disease Control, 2015).
- Students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems than students who only bully or are only bullied (Center for Disease Control, 2015).
- Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches (Gini & Pozzoli, 2013).
- Youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment (Perren, Ettakal, & Ladd, 2013; Shelley & Craig, 2010).
Bullying and Suicide
- There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression, violent behavior, and substance abuse (Reed, Nugent, & Cooper, 2015).
- Students who bully others, are bullied, or witness bullying are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than students who report no involvement in bullying (Center for Disease Control, 2014).
- A meta-analysis found that students facing peer victimization are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation and 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than students not facing victimization (Gini & Espelage, 2014).
- Students who are both bullied and engage in bullying behavior are the highest risk group for adverse outcomes (Espelage & Holt, 2013).
- Suicide is not a natural response to being bullied. This myth has the dangerous potential to normalize suicide behavior in response to suicide and thereby create copycat behavior among students (Center for Disease Control, 2014).
Countering and Preventing Bullying
For the same reasons you role-play to anticipate tough questions during a job interview, role-playing a few bullying scenarios with your child will teach him how to respond to a stressful confrontation. Jiu Jitsu or another martial art form is not much different. When practicing martial arts, we are basically role-playing various self-defense scenarios. When practiced enough, the student can recall and instinctively respond if he finds himself in a dangerous situation. At home, you can simply role-play some bullying scenarios to help your child practice for any confrontation. When he finds himself in a difficult situation, he will have more self-confidence since he’s better prepared to handle it.
Teach body language and communication skills
Jui-Jitsu and martial arts stances exude confidence. In Jiu-Jitsu or martial arts training, the posture of the attention stance is body straight, eyes focused and feet firmly on the ground. Also, instruct your child to breathe properly (calm breath equals calm composure) and speak in a confident tone to help deflect any immediate threat from a bully. Any action taken on the part of your child should not be done in a manner that might be perceived as trying to challenge the bully. While standing one’s ground with an air of composure — despite the actual feeling of fear — should be learned, and practiced, children should also learn how to communicate and create rapport with others. Using words to defuse a situation can help prevent it from becoming physical.
Take to the mat
Consider enrolling your child in a Jiu-Jitsu. The training at most self-defense academies does not promote the use of violence, however, having that knowledge will help your child feel more self-assured. And if your child does need to defend himself, his practice on the mat will provide a level of safety by allowing him to perform the moves instinctively when threatened. Besides learning self-defense skills — and understanding when it would be appropriate to employ them — he will take away life skills and leadership lessons that will bolster confidence throughout his life.
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