If you think the Scouts or Venturers in your unit never have to deal with bullying, that they’re somehow exempt from the problem, I hope you’re right.
But the statistics aren’t on your side.
According to data available at StopBullying.gov, the government website from which the BSA pulls many of its anti-bullying materials, 28 percent of U.S. students in grades 6 to 12 have experienced bullying.
So if you have at least four Scouts or Venturers in your unit, chances are at least one has been bullied. And chances are you wouldn’t know anything about it. Those same studies show that only about 20 percent to 30 percent of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.
I’m not suggesting the bullying is happening at Scouting meetings or events, though it could be. I’m saying that bullying affects our Scouts, and we should be prepared to deal with the ramifications.
October is Anti-Bullying Month, so now’s the time. This month (and every month, really), you can help bring awareness to this critical issue and be on the forefront of bullying prevention.
Bullying is never allowed in Scouting
Let’s get this out of the way first. Bullying in all forms — verbal, physical and cyberbullying — is prohibited in Scouting and should be taken seriously whenever and wherever it occurs. All forms of bullying violate the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
This was something covered in your Youth Protection training, and additional BSA resources are available here.
5 ways to recognize Anti-Bullying Month
- Plan (or encourage your Scouts or Venturers to plan) a meeting about bullying to be attended by parents, leaders and youth. Make this a serious occasion, perhaps by sharing one of many powerful anti-bullying videos out there. (Like this one.)
- Review the BSA’s Bullying Prevention Guide, and share it with leaders.
- Remember that bullying also includes cyberbullying. Information on cyberbullying is available on StopBullying.gov as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s NetSmartz page. Both sites contain information the BSA uses in creating its own anti-bullying materials.
- Help youth members earn the Cyber Chip, a tool to show skill and a commitment to do what’s right in the digital world.
- Read The Troop Bully, the award-winning Scouting magazine story. Ask your Scouts/Venturers to read and discuss the following articles about cybersafety in Boys’ Life magazine:
- June 2015: “Be Safe and Nice Online” (for ages 6-10 yrs.)
- June 2015: “Be Cyber Safe (and Smart)” (for ages 11-17 yrs.)