Most people have experienced or been witness to some type of bullying in their life. Bullying hurts and the memories of being bullied can last a lifetime. Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that has moved beyond the school playground in the form of verbal, social and physical harm, and into cyberspace through the internet or other digital technologies, to threaten, harass or torture someone. Many behaviors that seem harmless, such as teasing or excluding, can escalate into bullying. Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as a form of emotional or physical abuse that is deliberate, repeated and power imbalanced.
According to Kidshealth.org, 25% of public schools report that bullying among kids occurs on a daily or weekly basis and that 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied in the last year. Bullying has made national headlines, and our communities are taking a stance. On the Pacer Center’s Kids against Bullying website, celebrity Demi Lovato has written about her experience being bullied in middle school and how she is now a spokesperson to create a bullying prevention movement. Educators and parents are learning more than ever about identifying bullying and how to prevent it. The American Camp Association considers bullying prevention to be an issue of critical importance in promoting the health and safety of children at camp.
At camp Iroquois Springs, bullying is not tolerated. We have a No Bullying Policy that is strictly enforced, so that every camper and counselor feels safe and gets the most out of their summer camp experience. As part of our staff training, we hire an outside expert to conduct several workshops on bullying and ways to identify the different bullying behaviors of girls and boys. We provide our counselors the tools to identify the problem and then the skills to intervene appropriately. We know how important it is to set a tone that creates respect and accountability to one another. We create a positive and caring environment, with clear rules and expectations for behavior. Our goal is for every camper to feel at home, make friends, have fun, and not have to worry about incidents of bullying.
The value of being kind to one another is reinforced each and every day at camp. We are a community and learn from one another in everything we do. Rosie, our girls head counselor, ends each morning line up with “girls, don’t forget to be nice to each other today”. It’s a simple reminder that goes a long way. Bullying is less likely to occur when there are messages against it. And the messages don’t stop when the last bus pulls out of camp. We send our camp families the Iroquois Springs “Code of Conduct” on the Internet, for the safety and wellbeing of our campers beyond the camp’s gates. It’s our No Tolerance stance on cyberbullying behavior. Campers are expected to use good judgment when communicating on the internet or any other electronic device.
For anyone who has been bullied or witnessed someone else being bullied, here are some things you can do:
· Talk about it! You are not alone and, and no one deserves to be bullied.
· Talk to a trusted adult at home, school, or camp.
· Talk to a friend. They may have been through a similar experience.
· Develop Strategies for handling bullying.
· Stick up for yourself, and tell the bully to stop.
· Remain calm and walk away.
· Buddy up for safety. There is power in numbers, and the bully is less likely to approach a group.
· Gain Knowledge!
Find out about your school district’s policies and how they handle bullying situations. You don’t have to fight this battle on your own.
Let’s all work together to create schools, camps and neighborhoods that allow children to have fun, feel safe and enjoy life!