Excluded to emPOWERed: How to help young people who’ve experienced bullying

Do you know a young person who has been a victim of bullying? Chances are you do, even if they’ve never reported it.  In the United States, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 has been bullied during the school year according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center,  the observance/campaign aims to unite communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.

Often young people don’t report bullying for fear of retaliation or more aggressive harassment.

In seventh grade, I was harassed and teased daily.  The constant bullying was almost unbearable. I was alienated and excluded. Like many tweens and teens, it took months for me to build the courage to speak up for myself and report the taunting.

I confided in a trusted adult – my English teacher – and that changed my life.

You can be the change for young people.

Bullies and their victims have something in common – they both are dealing with some sort of pain. They both need someone to listen to their challenges, struggles, aspirations and hopes. Listening can empower victims and transform perpetrators.

It is up to us – the village – to empower young people to speak up. We must listen without judgment, avoid victim blame and shame and be willing to advocate for them.

Knowledge is power and the more you know about bullying prevention, the more equipped you’ll be to support and empower the young people in your life.

Signs a child is being bullied from Stopbullying.gov (partial list):

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school

For the full list of warning signs, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor, motivational speaker, author and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl. Check out a clip from her Bullying Prevention Month talk entitled “Excluded to EmPOWERed.”

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