October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
By now, we’re all aware that bullying is a major issue among our youth, in our schools, on online. But for argument’s sake, let’s paint a picture of how bad it is. In the United States, 28% of students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying, and over 70% of students have been witness to bullying in school. Suicide rates have skyrocketed in the past 3 decades, and research shows that bullying pays a role in at least 50% of them.
Did you know that appearance is the #1 reason kids are bullied? It makes sense. It is, after all, what is most noticeable about each of us. Let’s face it, we live in a culture where most aim to conform. And that’s especiallythe case among adolescents who want nothing other than to fit in and who tend to see different as weird, not cool.
So what’s the solution? Anti-bullying programs? Suicide awareness programs? Perhaps. But what about REbeL?
REbeL is creating “pockets of positivity” in the schools we’re in. We promote kindness, self-acceptance, and celebrating how each of us is different. REbeL is addressing some key factors that foster an environment where bullying is rampant. Our over-arching message is BE YOU. This seems simple enough, right? Well, it’s not. It takes an environment that sees being you as being enough. And to really be you, to be confidently you — not a you that depends on others’ approval or disapproval or a you that only feels secure if others rank lower in some way — takes courage. And practice. Lots of practice. If kids and teens invest in learning to accept themselves, they will quickly learn to embrace others too.
Insecurities, bullying, comparisons, pressures to conform, never feeling good enough. . . these issues continue to pollute the halls of our schools, Instagram feeds, and the minds of adolescents. Maybe it’s time for schools to adopt a new solution: REbeL.
Jessica L. Betts, MS, RD, LD