Local, national orgs fighting back against bullying

By Alexandria T. Montes | Reporter

Every October, schools, organizations and communities across the nation come together as a way to bring awareness to National Bullying Prevention Month. 

Bullying is a repeated unwanted and aggressive behavior that comes in different forms.  This may include actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, or attacking someone physically or verbally, all of which fall under relational aggression. 

“Now through social media and cell phone use – it goes on and it follows you home and has become an issue,” said Tracy Bohren, owner of PRO Martial Arts in Clovis. “Such a big issue that they actually have something called bullycide, which is kids committing suicide from being bullied.”

PRO Martial Arts, located on Fowler and Nees Avenues, is a kid’s mentorship program which uses karate as a vehicle for character development, anti-bullying and predator prevention. PRO Martial Arts also offers the ARMOR Program, which is included in the karate lessons but is designed by law enforcement and child psychologists to help give kids the tools they’ll need in certain situations. Children are taught to 1. Assess the situation 2. Avoid the situations and 3. Defend themselves if necessary. 

“The techniques that are taught in the anti-bullying fall under the Zero Tolerance Policy, so we’re not teaching kids to starts fights – we are teaching kids how to get out of something and go get help,” Bohren said.

Bullying is linked to many negative effects including impacts on mental health, substance use and suicide. With the issue becoming more and more prevalent – especially through social media – more parents are concerned whether their child is a victim of bullying.   Clovis Unified School District’s lead psychologist Dr. David Weber shared two types of warning signs to look for. Keep in mind that not all children that are bullied exhibit warnings signs. Here is a list of symptoms to look for:

– Unexplainable injuries

– Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry

– Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness

– Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch

– Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares

– Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school

– Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations

– Becoming withdrawn or lack of self-confidence

Parents often look to see if their child is a victim but it’s just as important to recognize if your is the perpetrator.

– Aggressive behavior

– Involvement in physical and verbal altercations

– If your child has extra or unknown belongings

Relational aggression can also be harassment that involves conflicts and verbal altercations. Signs can include the child having extra belongings, money, phones, or their style and interactions with people show they like to be in control and blame others for their problems.

“If you’re being bullied you have to let someone know,” Weber said.

Organizations like PACER, who began the movement in October 2006, and Stomp Out The Bully campaigns and offer additional resources to help the cause in efforts to shed light on a topic that has become a national issue.  Additional information and resouces can be found at pacer.org/bullying/ and stompoutbullying.org.