• 'KnowBullying' App Helps Fight Youth Violence

    'KnowBullying' App Helps Fight Youth Violence

    During National Youth Violence Prevention Week, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) focused on prevention of violent acts to and among youth nationwide. Students, parents, teachers and school officials are given special recognition during this weeklong period for their efforts towards fighting against youth violence. On March 23 to 27, SAMHSA has devoted its program to an important aspect of this cause—bullying.

    What is Bullying?

    According to the American Psychological Association, bullying is “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.”

    Educating those who spend time with children and teens is the most important factor in stopping the psychological impact of being bullied. The first step is receiving information about identifying those who are being bullied and how to help.

    What does Bullying Look Like?

    Unlike the days when the school bully beat up a child to take away their lunch money or for other purposes, technology brings a whole new set of problems for young people. While this form of bullying is still being witnessed, there are others that have had a greater emotional toll on young people.

    Cyber bullying creates significant harm in families with children and the communities that support them. This form of bullying uses technology, such as cell phones, computers and tablets, and can travels via emails or instant messaging to spread gossip or post threatening or embarrassing pictures of victims. The impact is heavy, due to rapid and direct access to vast numbers of people.

    Children subjected to this type of bullying may not report specific incidents, but may talk about their struggles with relationships at school or other social environments. They may or may not express fear or anxiety about the bullying, unless the person doing the bullying is being done by an adult or offline. Some young victims are apt to become future perpetrators in order to gain a more powerful sense of self-identity.

    Reports of cyber-bullying, as well as in other forms, should begin an important and vital opportunity to engage in conversation about solutions to the behavior.

    What can be done by Those Concerned?

    Addressing bullying quickly is important. The victims may not know they have resources available to help in their situation. Anyone witnessing a bullying incident or who may suspect bullying should take necessary measures to stop and report the occurrence.

    Informing those who work with or have children in their care is a key to overcoming its future emotional impact. SAMHSA’s new app is designed to help concerned individuals and groups to educate, recognize and stop bullying.

    What is the App?

    The free mobile app called KnowBullying an iOS and Android downloadable tool that can advise individuals on effective methods to prevent bullying and help build resilience in all children ages 3 to18, according to the SAMHSA website.

    Included on this app are prompts for beginning a conversation with children, whether the child has been bullied, has seen bullying, or who is doing the bullying themselves. There is additional information on how to spot signs and symptoms of bullying problems, how to talk to school officials in order to address a problem with a child’s education professionals and what kinds of services may be helpful for a child who is experiencing the problems of bullying.

    Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

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