Bullying wasn’t called bullying when I was a kid. It was the same thing only called teasing and it was just as hurtful with long-lasting effects.
I was a summer camp kid. For 4 weeks every summer I would pack my bags and head off to my home away from home, a sleep-away camp in northern Wisconsin.
When I think of bullying one particular summer at camp stands out. One of my favorite campers had Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s syndrome is a nervous system disorder that starts in childhood. It involves unusual repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that can’t be controlled (tics). For instance, you may repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or jerk your head. In some cases, you might unintentionally blurt out offensive words.
This sweet camper did all of the above. He would yell out offensive and non-offensive words at random times. It could have been a breeding ground for some awful bullying. But thankfully it didn’t go that far. We didn’t let it.
Join Me: Take the Pledge to Stop Bullying
The camp did something extraordinary. At the very beginning of the camp session all the campers, counselors and staff gathered together. In a very loving and non-humiliating way we had a group discussion about Tourette’s syndrome. We talked about what could happen and why it was happening. We then emphasized that there was no place for teasing. Ever. That was it. We nipped the high potential for bullying in the bud.
It’s not always so simple. As parents, many of us worry that our children will be bullied—or we have dealt with real-life situations of it happening. The scenarios are fraught with emotion, since everyone wants to protect their children from harm.
- Nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year – upwards of 13 million students.
- 64 percent of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36 percent reported the bullying.
- More than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied.
- The National Autistic Society reports that 40 percent of children with autism and 60 percent of children with Asperger’s syndrome have experienced bullying.
Childhood bullying can have a lifelong impact, leading to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide. But we have the power to prevent it, if we take action.
Have you taken the pledge? Please join me in saying no to bullying.
Disclosure: Thanks to TakePart for sponsoring today’s discussion.
Stock Photo © mandygodbehear #6409136