HELENA, Mont. – October is National Bullying Prevention Month, bringing awareness to this issue’s growing impact on students.
According to the 2019 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 22% of students across the state say they’ve been bullied on campus, and nearly 18% say they’ve been bullied online.
Holly Mook, the coordinated school health unit director with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, says no one should be a bystander to bullying.
“We can’t turn a blind eye to it, we can’t act like it’s not going on,” she stresses. “That doesn’t help anybody. It creates more damage than good. If you see something, say something.”
Montana schools are required to have bullying prevention plans. Mook says her office provides a tool kit to schools to help them develop and update their plans.
She adds there are a number of resources available to parents as well. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has the KnowBullying app. There’s also stopbullying.gov from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Mook says these resources help parents answer questions about bullying, and can even let them know if something more serious is going on, including civil rights issues.
“A lot of times, you’ll have parents that say, ‘Am I overreacting or am I under-reacting?’” she relates. “These different resources kind of help them navigate what those signs and symptoms look like, and how they can intervene.”
Mook notes the Montana Department of Justice provides the Safe in Your Space (https://dojmt.gov/safeinyourspace/)program to students, parents and schools to teach them about online safety and cyber bullying.
Photo Caption: Montana schools are required to have bullying prevention plans. Photo Credit: Pixabay