When we send our children off to school everyday, we do so thinking about their future. We take great care is selecting their school, the people that surround them, the books they read and the media they consume, all in the hopes of securing for them a bright future filled with possibility. Unfortunately, everyday in the United States 1 out of 10 children are teased, pushed, hit or otherwise tormented at school by other children. High schoolers are statistically at the highest risk for bullying.

Children who are bullied are liable to experience depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues that can last into adulthood. The bullies themselves are also more likely to abuse substances, commit crimes and become abusers. Some bullied children become bullies, and a few choose deadly means of retaliation. Even children who are bystanders are traumatized, experiencing worse mental health, lower school attendance, and more substance abuse.

The same pain that causes a bully to lash out with violence towards others, can cause another child to turn that same violence towards himself or herself. Suicide, cutting and other forms of self-abuse are ailments that stem from the same root cause.

Getting to the Root of Violence

Anti-bullying legislation, though necessary, does not get to the root of the problem. Children become bullies when they have not learned effective ways to deal with their emotions and are not offered supportive environments where they feel safe and secure. Emotional intelligence gives them the ability to recognize, understand, label, express, and manage their emotions, both negative and positive ones in appropriate ways. Emotional literacy is an answer to the problem, not a reaction to the symptoms.

More funding is being allocated towards suicide prevention and mental health in schools than ever before, which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. However, until make emotional literacy as much of a fundamental part of learning as reading and math, we will only be scratching the surface of this ongoing problem. Emotional literacy needs to become an integral part of a child’s education.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week

April 8-12, 2019 is National Youth Violence Prevention Week, a nationwide initiative to raise awareness and to educate students, teachers, school administrators, counselors, school resource officers, school staff, parents, and the public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth violence. Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), an initiative of Sandy Hook Promise, is a founding partner of this program. Click here to download the SAVE Action Kit that serves as a step-by-step planning guide with suggestions for how each sector of the community can support the campaign, activity ideas, links to national organizations sponsoring the event, articles and interviews on violence prevention and more.

For more information on how to impart emotional learning into your classroom or bring professional development and mental wellness tools to your organization, contact www.triumphsteps.com or email [email protected].