The new definition of bullying is “to target someone based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability of a person, sex or any other distinguishing characteristic or background of a person, or target someone based on their association with another person having one or more of those actual or perceived characteristics” (bullyfreezone.nv.org).
Bullying has been a behavior that has been around for a long time. Many people have been bullied in their life in one way or another. Even as adults we experience this behavior. The advantage of being an adult is that this behavior is easier to escape than for a child in an institution where they have to face the bully every day. Technology has made the bully’s abuse even easier and more damaging. Through text and social media, someone can be tormented even anonymously.
Nevada has many laws against bullying that can be found on the website, www.stopbullying.gov. Nevada schools are proactive with prevention by including curricula and activities to teach students about bullying. Additionally, staff continuously attend trainings on bullying prevention. In 2011, Gov. Brian Sandoval proclaimed Oct. 3-7 the “Week of Respect” in which schools participate in a campaign to take action against bullying. Not only do we need to be proactive against prevention of bullying in our schools, but parents play a big role in this behavior at home. Parent involvement in these school programs is a big deterrent for their child to participate in bullying or be the victim of one. Warning signs and prevention tools are also found on http://bullyfreezone.nv.gov/family_resources/.
The Carson City School District participates in the Week of Respect but also continues to get students involved in being proactive against bullying. They teach students to “Be An Up Stander.” The motto of this effort is continually emphasized by district staff as part of teaching students to be “someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right.” Staff keeps track of students who act as an “Up Stander” on the district website. In addition, the Carson School City District emphasizes social and emotional learning (SEL) to decrease bullying behavior. The goal is to “promote students’ self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship and responsible decision-making skills” (www.carsoncityschools.com/departments/educational_services/bully_free_zone).
There are strict policies in place for schools on how to respond and investigate bullying. Safe School Professionals (SSPs) were hired through a state grant to help identify at-risk students in the schools of Nevada.
“The role of the Safe School Professional is to support the development of a safe and respectful positive school climate according to the needs of the school and in order to address a variety of potential barriers to academic success that may exist within the child’s home, school, or community.”
SSPs are about being proactive towards at-risk behaviors using the Social and Emotional Awareness model (http://www.doe.nv.gov).
Every school in Nevada has a Bully Prevention Hotline: 1-775-689-0150 or text STANDUP to 839863. Schools also utilize Safe Voice (http://http//safevoicenv.org/), 833.216.SAFE (7233). Safe Voice is a tipline for parents and students to report threats to the safety and well-being of students. This threat could be from suicide, self-harm, bullying, violence and so on. Teaching our children to be Up Standers and proactive against bullying in our community will help Nevada kids become healthy adults and keep our community safe and healthy.
For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs or call us at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday’s health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.