COLORADO SPRINGS — As National Stop Bullying Day, today serves as a moment to shed light on this important issue.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “In 2019, about 22 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year,” (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). But how has that changed since the return to the classroom as we rebound from the pandemic?
According to Kidpower of Colorado, a nonprofit that offers safety education programs for schools and families to combat bullying, there has been an uptick in bullying since the return to the classroom.
I spoke with Jan Issacs Henry, the Executive Director and Cofounder of Kidpower of Colorado, about what her organization has seen since the return to the classroom. She says Kidpower spoke with local teens throughout our region who offered insight into the types of bullying they have been witnessing.
"They're seeing an increase in racist language and hate language that of course is really, really disturbing, and they’re feeling like after the pandemic when everyone was online, that there seems to be a lack of screening, that people impulsively blurt out verbal kinds of bullying behaviors,” said Issacs Henry.
Kidpower of Colorado also notes that kids are often afraid to report bullying to their parents. But there are ways parents can dig deep and find out if their kid is being bullied. She said this is how you should ask your child at home.
“Is there anything that you’ve been wondering or worry about that you haven’t told me? And then wait really patiently and calmly for the answer because the question is as important as the response because if you respond with emotion, what does a child do? They’re likely to stop telling,” said Issacs Henry.
Jan says parents also want to say, “Thank you very much for telling me," Because telling is, “really hard.” This will help your child realize they can come to you at home as a parent. She said specific questions like this are better than a simple “How is your day?” This is because each day has many elements, and some children might experience shame for telling on their peers.
Kidpower has been working with local schools to give students the confidence and tools needed to deal with bullying. The nonprofit offers virtual and in-person opportunities. For information, visit here.