Introduction to Let's Erase Bullying
By Karen Rayne
Bullying is receiving increased attention, including more research, more school-based interventions, and more compassion regarding the negative ramifications of being bullied. Almost one-fourth of all students report being bullied during the school year. While that may seem like an overwhelming number, it is not one that is inevitable. By standers have a substantial effect in reducing the instances of bullying. This manual provides suggestions and resources to empower both youth who are bullied and bystanders to end the cycle of violence and to educate bullies on the devastating impact of their actions.
In addition to addressing bullying as a general concept, this manual addresses cyberbullying, bullying because of perceived gender and sexual identities, and bullying that manifests as intimate partner violence. These three areas of bullying are included in this manual, in addition to a more general section on bullying, because they warrant special attention.
Cyberbullying, or bullying that uses digital media as the means of communication, happens in the online environment of social media, text messages, apps, email, chat rooms, comments sections, and every other form of digital communication. As most young people use technology as a common communication tool in all of their relationships, it is critical to address digital bullying. In fact, almost half of all young people have experienced cyberbullying.
Youth who identify as, or are perceived as, LGBTQ+ are at increased risk for bullying along with other forms of violence and hatred. While the broader culture has become more accepting of these identities, there are individuals and groups who are upset about those cultural developments. As a result, bullying of people who identify as LGBTQ+ has actually increased. This is particularly true for people who are gender nonconforming and/or who identify as transgender.
Intimate partner violence, while not always falling within the purview of bullying, maintains aspects of bullying in that a stronger person wields physical, social, and emotional power and control over a weaker person. The particular topics addressed in this section (reproductive coercion and sexual coercion) both address pressure used by a more powerful person against a weaker person.
Distinct lesson plans and education as laid out in this manual are a critical component of reducing bullying. However, schools and other youth-serving organizations must take deliberate steps to create an anti-bullying culture. As Dr. Podgurski said so eloquently in the Foreword, a systemic approach to bullying prevention involves an entire school system, from parents and administration, to faculty and administrative staff, to cafeteria workers, to bus drivers, to maintenance/grounds staff. When an entire community comes together to offer support for young people, a culture of bullying can be prevented. All staff need education, training, and resources so they know how to stand on the side of safe educational spaces and how to prevent and combat bullying.
I hope that you find this manual useful in erasing bullying, co-creating a culture of support, and ultimately increasing empathy.