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FOR RELEASE: May 18, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Take A Stand. Lend A Hand. Stop Bullying Now!
Public Health Campaign Gives Bullying Prevention Tips

Sometimes people don’t take bullying seriously until something tragic happens. Studies show that between 15 to 25 percent of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency, while 15 to 20 percent report they bully others with some frequency. The effects of bullying last a lifetime.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) have joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) public education campaign aimed at helping adults recognize the signs of bullying in children and take positive action to stop it. The theme of the campaign is Take A Stand. Lend A Hand. Stop Bullying Now!

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated, and involves an imbalance of power or strength. The child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Both males and females bully; males tend to use physical means while females often bully through exclusion and social isolation. Bullying can take many forms such as:

  • physical bullying, such as hitting or punching;
  • verbal bullying, such as teasing, name-calling or public humiliation;
  • nonverbal or emotional bullying, such as intimidating someone through gestures or social exclusion;
  • keeping certain people out of a "group";
  • getting certain people to "gang up" on others; and
  • cyber bullying, by sending insulting messages by e-mail.

Child bullies are more likely to skip school or drop out of school. They are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, vandalize property, and get into fights. Bullying can be a sign of antisocial or violent behavior and can lead to serious problems later in life. Studies by Dan Olweus, PhD, show that about 60 percent of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24.

Child victims of the bullying are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely, anxious, have low self-esteem, feel unwell, skip and/or drop out of school due to fear, and think about suicide.

Some signs that a child is being bullied include the following:

  • The child comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books or other belongings.
  • The child has unexplained bruises, cuts or scratches.
  • The child seems afraid of going to school (may complain of unfounded or stress-related illness), afraid of walking to and from school, riding the school bus or taking part in organized activities with peers.
  • The child appears sad, moody, teary or depressed when he or she comes home.
  • The child frequently appears anxious and/or suffers from low self-esteem.

“Parents, educators or school employees, health and safety professionals, and people who work with children should be aware of the signs of bullying and take action when they are spotted. If you suspect a child is being bullied, remember to support the child and see that the bully receives the help he or she needs. Gather information about the bullying and tell the child you are concerned about him or her. Ask questions and contact the child's parent, teacher, school counselor and principal,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

In the last three years (as of 2002-03), the number of bullying incidents reported to the State Department of Education by public school administrators increased more than 37 percent.

“Much of the increase is because educators are more aware of what bullying is and they are, as such, more accurately reporting it as required by federal law and using the data as part of our school bullying prevention efforts,” State Superintendent Sandy Garrett said. “Bullying and harassment are serious issues we face daily and are addressing as part of our school safety initiatives beginning in the elementary grades.”

Garrett reminds students, teachers and parents of the availability of the SAFE-CALL hotline to report acts of harassment, intimidation or other forms of victimization at or near school. The confidential, toll-free hotline is available statewide 24-hours per day at 1 (877) SAFE-CALL extension OK1 (1-877-723-3225 ext. 651).

To find out more information about the national public health campaign to prevent bullying, call the OSDH Child and Adolescent Health Division, Maternal and Child Health Service at 405/271-4471; Kathy Middleton with the OSDH Chronic Disease Service, Sexual Assault Prevention Education program at 405/271-4072; Bruce Cook with OSDH Child Guidance Service at 405/271-4477; or Gayle Jones, OSDE Safe & Drug-Free Schools Coordinator and bullying prevention trainer at 405/521-2107. Additional information for children and adults is available on the HHS web site: http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.

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