How We Formed & Where We’re Headed

In late August 2022, there was a post in the Benton LA Town Happenings Facebook Group asking for prayers for the family and students of Benton after a local tragedy. Over 500 comments can still be read discussing years of issues with bullying, systematic issues, previous deaths, and many cases of ongoing bullying. Many called for action and accountability, but no single person was stepping up to the plate.

Jennifer Reese made a comment stating that she would start a committee if people would join and back her in the endeavor. Within hours, she had hundreds of names on her committee list. Jennifer created a Google Form to keep up with the responses. She quickly added questions related to bullying to the form to get more in-depth information from members.

What she learned was absolutely heartbreaking. At least 75% of respondents had bullying stories of their own, whether directly or indirectly. So many lives have been affected by bullying! Within the first two weeks, she had over 300 names on her subscribers list. She had spoken to over 100 people – individually – about their personal bullying stories and ongoing bullying issues in Bossier schools.

Her mission transformed from addressing the current issue to addressing past, present, and future issues. She found herself researching policies, regulations, procedures, laws, you name it. At this point, she feels like she knows the policies better than anyone! This has helped tremendously when people reach out for guidance. Not only can she listen and empathize with their situations, but she knows exactly what steps they need to take from there. It’s empowering for them and gives them a great sense of relief that someone is finally listening and able to help.

At this point, Stand Together Louisiana is focusing on reporting facilitation, such as helping parents and guardians report bullying properly, branding and awareness, to get its name out to everyone so more parents and guardians know about the organization, and fundraising, because they do use programs and physical resources to achieve these goals. Stand Together Louisiana has big plans for the future and hopes to have funds and your support for those as well!

Stand Together: Student Edition

If they are allowed to speak freely and publicly and work within the school system, Stand Together Louisiana would love to start with who they are as an organization and what they are trying to achieve. Stand Together Louisiana is here to make a difference in the lives of children and their families. They want to help by spreading bullying awareness. Bullying is not just a problem for children. The mental and physical effects of bullying can be lifelong. There are people today well into their sixties and seventies they have spoken to who remember bullying from their childhood like it was yesterday. The torment they suffered so many years ago has had a lasting effect on them their entire lives. Bullying is not something that goes away once kids graduate.

At the school level, Stand Together Louisiana wants to create student-led programs (or clubs) at every school level. This would look and run differently at each level and school. It would need principal approval to form each chapter and teacher volunteers to run each. Each chapter would focus on bullying awareness, bullying prevention, and student inclusion. Each could decide the best ways for their school to approach this, with guidance from national resources and Stand Together Louisiana. They would like to have chapters from schools meet together, too, to build better relationships, share ideas, and strengthen bonds in the community. These students would be held to a higher standard, as well. If they represent this program, they should be kind, compassionate, understanding, and willing to speak up when they see or hear of bullying. Of course, this doesn’t mean physically, but the point is that the likelihood of bullying stopping is higher when someone intervenes, even verbally. These students could be known to other students who may be being bullied as someone they can talk to about their situation. Maybe those being bullied could confide in them and reach out for help. Sometimes children being bullied don’t feel comfortable speaking to adults about being bullied but would speak to a peer. The idea is to have a safe network of students within schools for other students to lean on in times of need. The students in the program could help get them in touch with the right people or resources. This could literally mean life or death in some scenarios. It could be life changing.

Bullying Statistics

Statistics are truly hard to determine. Many sources cite the exact same information with wildly different results.

Because Stand Together Louisiana is affiliated with PACER National Bullying Prevention Center, statistics from their website will be used. This comes from the National Center for Educational Statistics 2019 publication and is based on ages 12-18. There is not any official national data for under age 12. (1)

  • 1 out of every 5 (20.2%) 12-18 year old’s have reported being bullied at school. Middle school, specifically 6th grade at 29%, is the most likely time a student will be bullied, followed 8th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. (2)

  • Most bullying happens at school, physically or verbally, in this order: in a hallway or stairwell (308.6%), followed by in class (294.5%), in the cafeteria (184.9%), outside on school grounds (154.4%), in a bathroom or locker room (82.0%), and on the school bus (55.0%). Cyberbullying, inside or outside of school, online or by text follows at 107.8%. (2)

  • Females are more likely to be bullied at school than males (24% vs 17%). (1)

  • Males are more likely to be physically bullied, while females are 9% more likely to be the subject of rumors and excluded from activities on purpose (4% vs 2%). (1)

  • 41% of students who have been bullied believe the bullying will happen again. (1)

  • 46% of bullied students report notifying an adult at school of the incident. (1)

  • Cyberbullying has occurred for at least 15% of 12-18 year old’s. (1)

  • Cyberbullying that has occurred at least once in a person’s life has doubled from 2007 to 2019 from 18% to 27%. (1)

  • Cyberbullying is reportedly worse in middle school (33%), followed by high school (30%), combined schools (12%), and elementary school (9%). (1)

  • Most students who are bullied online are typically bullied offline. (1)

  • Students who have been bullied are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. (1)

  • Students who have been bullied are at greater risk of mental health and behavior problems and negative effects on how they feel about themselves (27%), relationships with others (19%), their schoolwork (19%), and physical health (14%). (1)

  • Students who have been bullied are twice as likely to experience headaches and stomachaches. (1)

  • Students who bully others and who report being bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior. (1)

  • Students who bully or have been bullied are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation than others and are 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide. (1)

  • It is reported that school-based bullying programs reduce bullying by up to 25% (McCallion & Feder, 2013). (1)

  • Contrary to belief, child suicide rates do not increase during holidays or holiday breaks. When children are away from school, studies show children are more at ease, bullying is less frequent (remember, most bullying is in person at school), therefore causing less mental distress. Child suicide rates increase when children are in school. The most prevalent day of the week for child suicide is Wednesday. (3)

  • Students reported that the most helpful things teachers can do are listen to the student, check in with them later to see how things are going and if the bullying has stopped, and give the student advice. (1)

  • Students reported that the most harmful things teachers can do are tell the student to solve the issue alone, the bullying wouldn’t happen if they acted differently, to ignore the bullying or walk away, to pretend the bullying doesn’t bother them, or tell the student to stop tattling. (1)

  • Statistically, fighting, getting back at the bully, telling the bully to stop, and other tactics are more likely to make the bullying worse. (1)

  • Studies show students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer support more helpful than educator or self-actions. (1)

  • Students reported bystanders helped them by spending time with them, talking to them, helping them get away from the situation, distracting them, listening to them, telling an adult, confronting the bully, and asking the bully to stop. (1)

  1. https://www.pacer.org/bullying/info/stats.asp

  2. https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019054.pdf

  3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/childrens-risk-of-suicide-increases-on-school-days/

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