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National Bullying Prevention Month

Creative Arts Therapy Intern

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It is important to understand that bullying/ harassment are not the same thing as conflict. In typical peer conflict, there is generally equal emotional reaction, and remorse and responsibility taken. During bullying, there may be a strong emotional reaction from the target and little emotional reaction from the bully, with little remorse, and they may even blame the victim. It is purposeful and may be done in order to seek power, control or material things.

According to the Center for Disease Control, those who are bullied are more likely to experience low self-esteem and isolation. Physical symptoms may include headaches, stomachaches, or sleeping problems, and mental health issues may include depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety.

In a situation where bullying occurs, you may see the following roles:

Ringleader bully: the initiator

Assistant to the bully: follows the bully’s lead, joins in the bullying directly

Reinforcer: encourages the bullying through behaviors such as laughing, watching, and being an audience member

Ally of the victim: engages in behaviors to protect and assist the victim as well as to discourage the bully

Outsider: does nothing and stays away or is unaware of the incident

Bystander: witnesses the event but does not act as an ally or reinforcer

Target: victim of the bullying behavior

(Salmivalli, 1996)

Which role will you choose to stop bullying? Rather than standing by, stand up. Think about what it means to be an “upstander” (someone who sees what happens and intervenes, interrupts, or speaks up to stop the bullying).

How can you be an upstander?

Questioning the bullying behavior can shift the focus momentarily

Use humor to say something funny and redirect the conversation

Try to find allies; there is strength in numbers

Offer to walk with the victim away from the situation

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.

For more tips and facts about Bullying, visit

Image Credit: ADDitudes

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