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September 2012 magazine

BULLIES BEWARE

When Key Club joins the fight, bullies are bound to back down.
Arm yourself with facts, strategies and like-minded friends to make a difference

story by Shanna Mooney

When it comes to bullying, there’s finally some good news: People are actually doing something about it. 

What’s more: Teens can play a huge part in ending bullying forever. 

“Bullying has always been an issue,” says Corey Gibson, chief development officer of I-MPACT and a 2012 Key Club International convention presenter. “Society is  finally recognizing the impact bullying has on self-esteem.” 

Bullying has been a problem for a long time, says Ellen Vaughan, Indiana University assistant professor in the department of counseling and educational psychology. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that about 20 percent of respondents report being bullied at school in the last year, Vaughan says. 

Social media has helped bring the issue to light. Because we have uninterrupted access to information and people’s stories, there’s growing knowledge of bullying and the short-term and long-term effects. “As a result, we’re seeing greater public awareness and attention to what is considered an important public health problem,” Vaughan says.

It's bad for bullies too 

Does it surprise you to hear that bullying is considered a health problem? Vaughan says it isn’t just the bullied she’s talking about, but the bullies themselves. 

“It was sad and shocking to see how many teens had been directly affected by it. Several kids shared suicide stories about bullied teens at their schools.”
Corey Gibson,
I-MPACT



“Youth who are bullied are at risk for anxiety and depression—and academic consequences,” Vaughan says. Those consequences may be long-term and continue into adulthood, including a greater likelihood not to finish school. 

Bullies are more likely to engage in a host of other problematic behaviors such as violence and substance use, Vaughan says. That can lead to even bigger problems in adulthood. 

Corey Gibson was amazed at the far-reaching effects bullying had on those who attended his Key Club convention workshop. The workshop empowered teen participants to create an anti-bullying campaign that could be rolled out nationally. In break-out groups, students talked about the effect bullying had on them as well as their local communities. 

“It was sad and shocking to see how many teens had been directly affected by it,” Gibson says. “Several kids shared suicide stories about bullied teens at their schools.” 

That’s the bad news. Ready for the good news? You can help!


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