Counselors talk National Bullying Prevention Month one day after Cape Fear Academy bullying lawsuit

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and just one day after a major lawsuit at Cape Fear Academy, WWAY is taking a closer look at what is becoming a prevalent issue in our area.

In the U.S., one in five students experience bullying throughout the school year. But according to experts, aggression can often start at home.

Middle school educator and Keeping Kids Safe founder, Dr. Yushonda Midgette said she sees the pattern all the time, starting with a student coming to class angry.

“Somebody made them upset at home, and then they come to school, and now they’re retaliating against anyone in their view,” said Midgette.

The student usually focuses aggression toward others with less power, using verbal, physical, or cyber bullying to make themselves feel more powerful. According to UNCW CARE Director Jen August, virtual learning has given cyber bullying a boost.

“Back before social media, there was a lot of rumors spreading and things like that.” August continued, “Now, that’s really easy to do and can have a really lasting effect on people.”

This sometimes affects students to the point where they can’t sleep, eat, or focus, and often causes them to blame themselves for the abuse.

“There’s a lot of trauma in people that have been victimized in these ways,” said August. “There can be anxiety, depression, it’s difficult for them to focus on their academics when they’re feeling sort of terrorized in their personal lives.”

Both August and Midgette believe peers, educators, and parents should intervene when they see bullying in one of three ways: directly, delegating responsibility by alerting authorities, or distracting the bully, getting the victim away from the situation.

“Sometimes all they need is someone to say, I’m willing to hear what you have to say. I’m willing to understand what you’re going through,” said Midgette.

And though victims can feel isolated in these situations, August said it is always important to reach out and for bystanders to listen and help.

“There’s always help that’s available One of the things about these issues is that it feels so isolating. And so they need to know that they are not alone.”

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