As children across the country are starting their school years, their parents and guardians are taking steps to make sure they’re equipped with the needed supplies and clothes that fit. Let’s be sure to equip them with the tools to help prevent bullying. If not stopped, bullying results in real and lasting mental health effects. It is a repeated behavior that can take the form of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. It is often based on the imbalance of power such as physical strength, popularity, or holding hurtful information. In fact, many children and adolescents are hesitant to talk about being bullied or to acknowledge that they are bullying others. SAMHSA is working to educate young people, parents, teachers, and community leaders about what they can do to prevent bullying.
Responding quickly and consistently to bullying behavior sends the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. Stopbullying.gov has information on bullying prevention, including
- warning signs of bullying;
- the roles young people play;
- how racial, ethnic, and minority groups are affected by bullying;
- conversation starters for parents to talk to their children when bullying is most likely to occur;
- cyberbullying; and
- media guidelines for accurately providing coverage on bullying.
Because of the long-lasting impact of bullying on mental health, efforts across the federal government are focusing on how we can best support the young people of our nation. SAMHSA supports multiple federal efforts to stop bullying, such as awarding grant funding to states and communities, developing informational and educational resources, and participating on interagency groups. For example, SAMHSA’s Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education) has promoted youth mental health awareness among schools and communities in 20 states. Since 2014, the grant program’s successes include:
- more than 50,000 teachers, student support personnel, juvenile justice advocates and parents trained to better understand and to identify mental health issues;
- more than 117,000 young people have been connected to services and additional resources and
- an increase in early and accurate identification of students’ mental health needs.
SAMHSA also is contributing to the President’s Federal Commission on School Safety, led by the Secretary of the Department of Education and including the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and of Homeland Security. Part of the Commission’s charge is to improve access to mental health treatment. The Commission has been examining ways to raise awareness about mental illness, the need to integrate behavioral health services into our schools, and the effectiveness of treatment and community recovery supports.
I am also excited to announce that on August 20, 2018, SAMHSA will be participating in the 2018 Summit to Prevent Cyberbullying in Rockville, Maryland, hosted by the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention. The Summit will feature notable speakers and expert panel discussions on the topics of the latest research and resources in the field, will increase awareness of existing cyberbullying prevention efforts, and will identify strategies for coordination and collaboration across various sectors.
No matter the situation, there is always hope. There are ways to stop bullying and to engage everyone in the effort to build safe and supportive environments, at home, at school, and in communities. Together, we can take action toward erasing bullying from our nation.
Additional Resources for Bullying Prevention
- SAMHSA’s KnowBullying mobile app
- KSOC-TV: “Impact of Cyberbullying: Addressing the Needs of Children and Youth”