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Bullying: Taking Action to Stop the Abuse

Category: Patient Stories
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A Boy Covering His FaceBullying has evolved into a widespread, serious problem that is destroying lives across the country. More than insults, taunts and pushing others on the playground, bullying is an abusive behavior repeated over time, negatively affecting thousands of young people every day.

Defining bullying

According to, bullying can take many forms, including verbal abuse (name-calling, teasing), social abuse (spreading rumors, excluding others on purpose, breaking up friendships), physical violence (hitting, punching, shoving), and cyber-bullying (using social media to harm others).
While definitions may vary, bullying typically involves:

  • Imbalance of power. People who bully use their power to control or harm, and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves.
  • Intent to cause harm. Actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm.
  • Repetition. Incidents of bullying happen to the same person over and over by the same individual or group.

Recognizing the warning signs

There are many reasons why victims of bullying might not speak up, making it even more important that educators, family members and friends pay attention to possible warning signs, such as:

  • Coming home with damaged clothing or other items
  • Reporting the loss of books, electronics, clothing or jewelry
  • Complaining of headaches, stomachaches or feeling sick
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Trouble sleeping or experiencing nightmares
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Losing interest in friends, avoiding activities with peers, or suddenly having fewer friends
  • Fear of going to school or other places
  • Loss of interest in school or doing poorly in school
  • Appearing sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed after school
  • Harming oneself
  • Feeling helpless or inadequate
  • Running away from home
  • Talking about suicide

Community action

The issue of bullying is the focus of a three-part educational series sponsored by St. Luke's, St. Luke's Foundation and Miller-Dwan Foundation. The first installment, "The Bullying Bandwagon: Steppin' Up With Courage," takes place on Thursday, January 26, at the Radisson Hotel Duluth Harborview. The program is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with optional Listening Circles from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. The series continues on March 1 and March 29.

For more information or to register, call 218.249.5694. To register online, visit St. Luke's Class Information & Registration and click "Bullying: Continuing the Conversation."