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Researchers at Anti-Bullying Summit say a community response is needed

Friday, September 19, 2014

Written by , WOW! 6 News
Friday, 19 September 2014 16:09

"One of the things that is really important to remember about bullying is that old adage 'it takes a village' and I really think that speaks very very well to this problem of bullying because it's not isolated to one context and we see a crossing over from schools to home to community," said Anne Williford, an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas.

Friday leading experts in the field of bullying intervention gathered at the University of Kansas sharing ideas about how to prevent and stop bullying on every platform, which research now shows has a higher success rate when done through a holistic approach.

"We also need to be thinking about how do we involve the community and that means parents, that means other family members, that means other community professionals and community agencies, what is their role in really trying to address this problem from a systematic and collective perspective," said Williford.

Scientists and researchers discussed how to start from the ground up. Williford said from infancy to adulthood, everyone in a community has a responsibility to teach children how to overcome bullying.

"We have to give kids what we call social emotional learning skills, the ability to regulate their emotions, to manage conflicts, so that they can take care of these conflicts so they don't lead to bullying," said Dorothy Espelage, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dorothy Espelage has researched bullying for the past two decades and she said if we don't come together to put a stop to it, the outcomes will only get more severe.

"The kids that engage in bullying as perpetrators they have adverse outcomes as well, but the kids who are targeted over and over again into adulthood we know that they tend to have mental health issues as adults so we want to catch it early and we want to catch it often," said Espelage.

Research also shows it's not just those involved that are affected.

"We see it effecting very negatively school climates, classroom climates and at the end of the say we know that effects learning. It challenges us to think about intervention and prevention in a very different way," said Williford.

State Law now requires every school in Kansas to have an anti-bullying policy. The policy varies based on the needs of students at each school. However as Williford said bullying doesn't stop at school, it is a community problem which is why it must be a community that fights it.

Go to WOW! 6 News for the original article and accompanying video.

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