COLORADO SPRINGS — October is National Bullying Prevention Month. You may think that with fewer kids being in school in cohorts, combined with virtual learning or a mix of both that right now less bullying is going on here in southern Colorado, but that is not the case.
Tom Caughlan is a licensed clinical social worker and the manager of Clinical Social Work and Beharvior Health with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. Tom says, “In Colorado Springs we saw a 39% increase of mental health patients from August to September.”
So why the jump in numbers? Tom says, “We can't say that those additional visits were directly related to cyberbullying, but it could certainly be a possibility. That (time) was at the start of school I think that's interesting and poignant that it happened at the time when kids were forced back into trying to learn how to socialize again.”
Adding to the stress of learning to socialize again, is also the current pandemic. Tom says, “When we look at what COVID-19 has done to all of us, forcing us into isolation and that (social media) is indeed the outlet that children and teens are using to communicate and stay connected. Therefore, that becomes the way that children and teens are engaging in bullying one another.”
Tom also says parents should be mindful that your child being bullied isn't the only problem you need to be watching for in their behavior. “Bullying is a contagious behavior, when we are being bullied on social media, the spot light is on us, so the reflex is to put the spotlight on someone else, and we bully someone else down the road. We know that is bullying is damaging behavior, research shows that children who engage in bullying are just as likely to experience the same negative mood aspects as kids who are being bullied.”
To help parents navigate this complex landscape, Tom will be leading a free virtual conversation around the topic of bullying. Topics will be signs of cyberbullying, bullying, prevention tips, tips to improve resiliency and more! Questions from the audience are welcomed and encouraged.
Tom says there are many steps parents can take to safeguard their kids. A big one is knowing where your kids are on-line and how long they are there. “There are a lot of ways you can control screen time and I think that controlling screen time is very important. As parents, we never want to feel like we're we're upsetting our kids, and we don't want to be involved in their personal lives because we understand, especially in their teenage years, their relationships with their peers are often times more important.”
I'll put a link if you would like to sign up, or reserve your spot for Tom's virtual event Monday October 19th at 5:30 you can click HERE