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In a recent survey, 70 percent of all students said they felt affected by bullying. That’s nearly three out of four people in any school, or approximately 25,000,000 young people in the United States alone. The enormity of the problem is unimaginable. But not irreversible.

According to current research, the accepted definition for bullying is as follows:
  • The behavior is repeated over time.
  • The aggressor intends to do harm, if only to embarrass.
  • An imbalance of power exists between the aggressor and the target.

There isn’t an established profile of a bully or a target. Anyone can be either. If you think someone is bullying you, use the above definition to decide if it is bullying. If your behavior upsets someone, again, check the above definition to decide if your actions make you a bully. What you believe is teasing or fooling around may really be bullying. The effect on the other person is the defining factor.

Given the above definition, brainstorm bullying behaviors you have seen on television, in the news, and in school. Group them into different types of bullying—e.g., name-calling, homophobia, body image, etc. Name-calling is the first form of bullying most of us experience. Make a list of the hurtful words young children use in calling one another names. Then make a list for elementary school, middle school, and high school. How do the names change? Where and when are these names most often heard in schools?

If your school does not have a statement of respectful behavior posted, perhaps you and your friends can create one. Try publishing it in your school newspaper. One elementary school had this one-sentence creed: “We don’t hurt anybody’s insides or outsides.”

Always remember to treat others with respect, and expect to be treated with respect yourself.