According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a bully is, “one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable.”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the Meigs County Community Prevention Coalition would like to take a moment to shed light on this issue, and present resources to help prevent issues associated with bullying. Stopbullying.gov is a website with information, facts, and resources on the subject. According to the site, between 25 percent and 35 percent of young people are bullied. This can lead to other issues, including possible decreases in school attendance and attention, withdraw, changes in personality, and it can even lead to health issues.
So, how do we as a community deal with the issue of bullying? As with many complex issues, there is no one easy fix. Modeling good behavior for our young people is the first step. Even when the preteens in our lives like grown-ups to think they are not interested, they are still watching what the adults around them are doing. Keeping lines of communication open and being willing to have the tough conversations can encourage young people to share when they see bullying, or even when they are having issues with being bullied. Treating others with respect, even those you may not agree with, and being willing to be the brave kid who supports their peers is vital in building a better community.
Finally, one of the best ways to avoid this issue — get involved! Bullies are less likely to target those who are connected with other people or who take ownership of what they enjoy and believe in. So, my best personal advice to prevent bullying is to find your people. Join a group at the Library, visit a church class, try out for a sport, or (I may be a bit biased with this one) join a 4-H club or other community organization! There are people out there who share your interests — be willing to find them. But be willing to be nice and connect with those who may not think or act the same way you as well.
If you would like to check out more information about bullying, visit stopbullying.gov. If you would like to get involved in the community, think of supporting the efforts of the Meigs County Community Prevention Coalition, OSU Extension, or any of the organizations striving to make Meigs County a better place for all of us.
Michelle Stumbo is an OSU extension educator and Meigs County Community Prevention Coalition President.