According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, 1 out of every 5 students reports being bullied. We went to the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to find out why standing up against bullying is so important.
“The more we can do to get people talking about it, the better,” said Joy Ryan, President & CEO of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.
More than 80 percent of students and residents at the Boys and Girls Ranch have been bullied during their lives.
Ryan says one of the biggest issues with bullying these days is that it could come in a number of ways: cyber, physical, verbal and emotional.
“Bullying does not discriminate. It’s one of those things that everything has experience at one point of their lives. Everybody knows how that feels,” said Taylor Keller, clinical therapist at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.
Ryan says she wants people to remember that everyone has a story and that the bully is likely hurting, too.
“It’s very rare that you find a bully that’s never experienced that loss of control themselves and that’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to regain some sense of power, some sense of control and it’s the ugliest way to do it,” Ryan said.
Even if you don’t think your child is being bullied, Ryan says it’s still a good idea to teach them what to do if they see someone else on the receiving end.
“Don’t give the bully attention, you know? Don’t give the bully that power. Find a way to walk away, support the victim, include that child or person who’s being bullied,” Ryan said.
Keller also says it’s important for adults to be mindful of how they act and what they say in front of their kids.
“They’re soaking it up and seeing how we react to those situations. When they see that and they see their parents doing it, they’re going to think it’s fine. They’re going to think it’s something they can do too when it is bullying, it is harassment and it’s not OK,” Keller said.
On Monday, staff and residents wore T-shirts that read, “Bee Kind, Everyone Has a Story” to raise awareness.
The students are also making anti-bullying posters that will be hung up at the thrift store and school.
In the era of COVID, Keller says cyber-bullying has gotten much worse.
She says people are more dependent on technology than ever before and for many people, it’s the best way to stay connected with friends and family.
But when it comes to online bullying, Keller says it’s much different than the past.
At one time, people would just walk away from the situation when they were being bullied.
But now, kids don’t have that opportunity.
“It is so invasive and pervasive in these kids’ lives, that they have no ability to escape it. There’s no more environmental pockets where this bullying is taking place, it’s all over, which means they can’t escape it and can make it feel even more devastating,” Keller said.
If you feel your child is being bullied, Keller says it’s important to ask open-ended questions to find out the situation.
Then, you can teach your child how to advocate and cope for themselves.