CLEMSON, SC – A big problem some students face as they return to the classroom is bullying. Whether our children face it in the classroom or at home online, bullying will take a toll on many this new school year, according to experts.
“If they are scared they are not focusing or giving their full attention to what is going on,” explained Robin Kowalski, a Clemson Psychology Professor who has studied cyber bullying extensively. “Even if it is just one child, it becomes a big issue.”
A new Wallet Hub study says South Carolina is the 9th worst state for how often bullying happens and how it’s handled. Our state also ranked the number of students who skip school because they are scared of being bullied.
The National Education Association says more than 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of being bullied.
“That suggests we have a long way to go,” Kowalski said reacting to the study. “As a parent, that is frightening to me to know that they are afraid to go to school every day.”
Kowalski and other experts at Clemson University don’t believe bullying overall has increased, but people are becoming more aware.
Today, they say, it’s seen more online with bullies using anonymity on social media.
“It could be a sibling, another student at school, it could be my next door neighbor or someone in Timbuktu,” the professor added. “Imagine a child going back to school and wondering is it you? Is it you? Not knowing who it could be.”
Bullying can have lifelong negative effects on victims’ work, socializing and anxiety. That’s why experts say it’s important to keep an open conversation with your child about what it is and how the situation can be handled.
“For different reasons, they are unlikely to talk so we suggest that parents ask. They could have a profile on a website as well so that they can see who is friending their child and what their child does on sites,” Kowalski explained.
She says in their research, they’ve found most children want their parents to be involved with their online activities. “The term they used is that they wanted supervision, not ‘snoopervision’. They want their parents involved in their social media, what they did not want is that they know exactly what is going on every second.”
Additionally, instead of immediately removing them from school or technology, they say it’s better for the whole community; parents, teachers and friends to find a way to intervene.
“It’s important for these kids going back to school to really think about the role that they are playing,” said Kowalski.
For more information on bullying and how you can intervene, check out the Clemson bullying prevention program here: Olweus.sites.clemson.edu