Throughout the last few years, conversations surrounding bullying have increased and there are more resources than ever to help address this issue. Yet all of this progress doesn't mean young people aren't less worried about this topic — in fact, a new survey shows bullying is a top concern among Gen Z kids. And although the survey's statistics are a tad startling, it also provides tangible steps regarding how parents can make their child feel safer.
A survey commissioned by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) talked to kids ages 6-17 across America on the topic of bullying, with 86% of respondents revealing not being bullied is a daily priority for them. And when asked to name a top global issue they care about, 30% named bullying, with poverty, human rights, and access to education rounding out the list.
To imagine over 75% of kids worry about bullying on a daily basis is not only heartbreaking, but it signals more guidance is needed regarding best practices to address bullying.
In light of these findings, the BSA recommends five key steps to help combat this issue:
- Promote “disconnecting” and head outdoors (having kids interact with one another in group activities, whether it be through sports or painting a mural, can promote supporting one another as a team)
- Encourage kindness (model kindness in your daily life and have open discussions about what it means to be nice. Make sure to use concrete examples in these conversations)
- Educate and equip (don't hesitate to speak with a trusted expert on this issue who can provide you with anti-bullying resources)
- Use the buddy system (the idea here is there's power in numbers. Help your child find a trusted friend they can turn to for support in tough situations)
- Explore differences (Don't be afraid to talk about differences. If your child has a question about what it means when their friend says they have ADHD, for example, have a conversation about it. Being open and honest can help promote acceptance)
Someone who is familiar with these principles and has helped employ them in their own home is Scout mom Katie Dettman, who has a 14-year-old son named Alden. The teen has autism, and Dettman believes the BSA's philosophy has given her son the opportunity to thrive as an individual.
"So having autism makes it really hard for Alden to build those peer connections," she explains to Romper via phone, while noting how the BSA has helped Alden make new friends. "Just about a week ago he had homecoming at school and it was really cool to see the group of kids he met there were all scouts. I’m really glad he has that peer group through scouts."
As for why Dettman believes scouts has played an integral role in this turnaround, she credits simple, key points. "Through the scout law they’re all taught they have to be kind, courteous, friendly, and helpful," she says. "All of those points of the scout law go right back to being a good friend. So I think that not only that, but because they work together they have to learn how to get along with each other regardless of strengths or difficulties."
What's more? Dettman saw success when she used the scout principles in a behavior plan for one of her students with autism (she was once a special educator), noting how kids tend to thrive when they can latch on to concrete examples.
Of course, there are plenty of other resources and organizations out there to choose from if you have concerns about bullying. It's also important to note there is a bright light amid these concerns — 76% of the kids surveyed say they believe positive change in the world is possible, while 84% want to help others in their community. And hopefully, if everyone works together, future generations won't worry as much about possibly being bullied.