4-H groups target ways to prevent, end bullying

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In an ideal world, everyone would treat others the way they would want to be treated. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and bullies exist.  

Bullying affects nearly 30 percent of young people in the United States, including those who are bullies and victims. It occurs most frequently between sixth and eighth grades. Bullying can be verbal, physical or mental. Boys tend to bully boys, and girls usually target other girls. Boys and girls report instances of verbal bullying in which someone has made fun of their appearance or the way they talk. Boys tend to be the recipients of more physical forms bullying, such as hitting, kicking or pushing. Girl bullies tend to attack their victims in a more psychological way, such as asking others not to associate with victims or spreading gossip. They are also more likely than boys to be the targets of sexual comments.

Those who are victims tend to feel lonely, depressed, embarrassed or have low self-esteem. In the most serious cases, students have committed suicide or taken the lives of their fellow classmates.

4-H realizes that bullying is a huge issue in our schools and communities and is actively working with young people to promote acceptance and stop bullying. As a victim of bullying, Allyson Wilkerson, a Simpson County 4-H’er realized the emotional effects it can have on young people. She suggested that her fellow 2010 4-H Teen Council members target that issue. Teen council members collected and received training on available 4-H resources to educate others in their counties on the effects of bullying. Wilkerson took it one step further and partnered with two other Simpson County 4-H’ers to develop the I Resist Bullies program, in which they share their personal stories of being bullied. They have reached 700 young Kentuckians and received recognition from National 4-H for their work.

In Muhlenberg County, bullying was the No. 1 issue community leaders identified for six teens and one adult leader to tackle as part of a National 4-H Council Engaging Youth, Serving Community grant the county received from the University of Kentucky. The teens used their creativity to develop and transform into superheroes, each targeting a specific type of bullying. They’ve presented their program and their personal stories to fourth- and fifth-graders in the county.

More information on bullying is available at the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service.

Source: Deana Reed, 4-H youth development specialist

Ralph Hance is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for 4-H and youth development.