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Protecting our Native youth through bullying prevention

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This means there are two more weeks to raise awareness and share prevention techniques to make our communities a safe environment for Native youth.

What is bullying?

Before we can prevent bullying, we have to first know how to identify it. Bullying can happen in a lot of different ways. But based on a definition from the Native Ed Review, bullying can include any of the following acts:

  • Online or in person aggressive behaviors committed by another youth or group of youth
  • One or more students tease, threaten, spread rumors or physically hit, shove, or hurt another student repeatedly
  • Shunning peers and encouraging mental or physical isolation

Effects of Bullying

When youth are bullied, they often experience insecurity, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and unhappiness. You might also notice that a youth’s academic performance is declining. Or maybe the youth has dropped out of school altogether.

In the worst cases, bullied youth commit suicide.

And according to the Native Ed Review, bullied victims aren’t the only ones affected.

Students who simply witness acts of bullying often show similar, if not the exact same, symptoms.

Preventing Bullying

Here is the good news. Because we know this problem exists, our Boys & Girls Club community can help prevent it. And you’re doing this work every day by simply giving youth a positive environment with caring adults.

To take your prevention efforts one step further, try using your Club’s curriculum or life skills development activities to show youth how they can approach bullying, avoid it, and speak up.

Involve elders in Club activities to help connect youth with cultural traditions. Elders can model qualities like respect and patience to Club youth and teach them the importance of respecting one another.

Arranging times for tribal leaders to come to the Club can be another great way to bring in role models for youth. This also gives tribal leaders a chance to be active in prevention techniques throughout the Native community.

Need more ideas?

Look through our list below for resources and toolkits that you can use in your Club. Some have even been developed specifically for Native communities. You will also notice that some of the resources are curriculum-based and originally designed for schools. There might be some pieces you can adapt for your Club setting. Or maybe there is a chance for you to partner with your local school.

Bullying prevention happens all year long. But National Bullying Prevention Awareness month is a good time for us to evaluate what we’re doing to prevent bullying in our Clubs and what more we could be doing.