Tom: Sorry, I’m late. Thanks for responding that you got my message.
Harry: Not a problem. Thanks for informing us.
Maria: Is everything okay, Tom?
Tom: I’m not sure. My little guy – well, he’s not so little, 6th grade. He’s started to dread school. It’s such a battle to get him out of the house in the morning.
Harry: Has he said why?
Tom: No. I’ve asked. He likes his teachers and grades are good so far. It’s strange though, he’s extremely hungry after school, like he hasn’t eaten all day.
Maria: Does he pack a lunch?
Tom: No, we give him money to buy lunch.
Maria: You may want to pre-pay his lunch so he doesn’t need to take cash. It sounds like someone is forcing him to turn over the money. That happened to my niece.
Tom: Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I should ask him if something is going on at school.
Maria didn’t use the “B” word, but it’s safe to say that she and Tom are starting to wonder if Tom’s son is being bullied at school. The website stopbullying.gov defines bullying in the following way:
“Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”
Bullying isn’t always about physical intimidation or aggression. Verbal bullying involves teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, and threats. Social (or relational) bullying involves hurting someone’s reputation and can include leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors, and public embarrassment.
We know from research that Tom’s son and Maria’s niece aren’t alone. A study by theNational Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that, nationwide, 28 percent of students in grades 6 through 12 experienced some form of bullying.
As part of a continuing effort to support Lehigh staff and faculty, our Employee Assistance Program provider, Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH), will present a workshop entitledBullying: Keeping Kids Safe. The workshop takes place on Tuesday, November 5 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Ryan Morgan, PsyD., Senior Clinical Care Manager from IBH, will visit campus and engage participants in a 90-minute interactive session on the topic of bullying among school-age children. He’ll look at ways to identify and address the behavior when it happens. He’ll also discuss the mental health issues that can result from bullying.
Sadly, bullying isn’t confined to children and schools. You may be familiar with the concept of workplace bullying. Ryan will offer advice and approaches that can work when adults engage in such behavior as well.