Think bullying doesn’t happen to your Scouts?
Consider this sobering fact: More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center.
That means the odds are good that someone in your pack, troop, team, or crew deals with a bully on a regular basis — at school, in Scouts, or both.
And if the bully is lurking in your Scout unit, you can bet the victim will think twice before he or she attends another meeting or campout. What a tragedy it would be for a youth to drop out of Scouting because he or she is scared of a bully.
Ignoring it won’t work. It’s up to you and your fellow Scout leaders to understand the warning signs and know how to stop it. Now.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, meaning the time is right to raise awareness, educate others, and inspire action.
- Read “The Troop Bully,” Scouting magazine’s award-winning story about how to stop a Scout who is bullying others. The story features experts who will teach you how to identify bullies (easily frustrated, agressive) and victims (nervous, avoid peer interaction). And more importantly, the article shows how to deal with both sides and create an anti-bullying culture in your troop. ”The answer,” one expert says, “is working together to create a network of support.”
- Talk to your Scouts at your next meeting. Ask your youth leaders if you can take a few minutes out of the next meeting to address this subject with the group. Or better yet, if you feel your youth leaders are up to the task, have them lead the discussion with their peers while you supervise. The National Bullying Prevention Center offers excellent resources to help guide this conversation. There are handouts and activities for Scouts of all ages available here.
- Get educated on the nationwide bullying picture by exploring this excellent Time magazine feature, called “What You Need to Know About Bullying.” The articles delve into the “facts behind all those sensational headlines — what we know and don’t know about why bullying happens and what we can do to minimize its effects.”
- Know the resources custom-built for kids and teens. The National Bullying Prevention Center’s youth-focused sites speak the language of today’s kids and teens. Have your elementary-age Scouts check out KidsAgainstBullying.org, and send your middle and high-school Scouts to TeensAgainstBullying.org.