According to a 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, bullying is a problem across the country, likely affecting 18 to 31 percent of young people. This serious issue can no longer be treated as child's play; it must be prevented.
Bullying behavior can start as early as preschool and continue through adulthood, according to the study. There are various forms of bullying, from children being made fun of at school to receiving mean messages on social media sites. Acts like these can have short and long-term negative consequences for both bully and victim, including poor grades, anxiety, depression, and in some cases, even suicide.
Perhaps surprising some parents and educators, researchers at the National Academies concluded that schools should end zero-tolerance policies that automatically suspend students for bullying because these practices are ineffective. Policies like these can may actually lead to under-reporting of bullying because suspensions are perceived as too punitive. There's also no evidence that these punishments have a positive impact on children, according to the report.
A more preventative approach, researchers suggest, would be to try and treat this problem through teaching tolerance. National Academies member and UCLA professor Sandra Graham adds that anti-bullying programs should teach kids how to accept and get along with others who are different than they are. In addition, effective anti-bullying programs should teach and encourage children to tell an authority figure when they witness bullying.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel