A two-year-old campaign against bullying is finding popularity and success, especially during the month of October, which is not only the month for Halloween but also National Bullying Prevention Month. The “Don’t Be a Monster” campaign attempts to entertain students but also educate them about the serious nature of bullying. “Don’t Be a Monster” was established in 2012 in Austin, Texas. The program has found its way to Utah where two friends–one of whom is a set designer for the Nightmare on 13th Haunted House–visit area schools in Halloween costumes and relate their own experiences.
One of the friends, Val Chadwick Bagley, is the set designer and confesses that he was a bully in high school before someone intervened and changed his direction. The other man, Steven Duggar, comes out dressed as a Frankenstein’s monster-type of character. For Duggar, he was the victim of bullying in his younger years.
The Utah version of the “Don’t Be a Monster” campaign has had great success so far. They intend to spread their message to approximately 8,000 students during the month of October.
The Real Monsters Behind Bullying
Bullying statistics are somewhat alarming, especially when it comes to the disconnect between what adults perceive and what children are actually experiencing. Here are two examples:
- 60 percent of middle school students say they have been bullied; Only 16 percent of staff believed students are bullied.
- 25 percent of students say teachers intervened in the bullying incidents; 71% of teachers say they intervened.
Other alarming statistics deal with the potential repercussions of bullying–escalated violence and criminal tendencies not only from the bully but also the victim.
- A bully is five times more likely to have a serious criminal record by the time he/she grows up and six times more likely to be incarcerated by age 24.
- Two-thirds of bullied students become bullies themselves.
- 30 percent of students who reported being bullied also stated they had at times brought weapons to school.
- Bullying was found to be a factor in two-thirds of the school shootings reviewed by the U.S. Secret Service.
Bullying in Utah
Bullying is obviously a serious problem. While the state doesn’t have laws designating criminal punishment of juvenile bullies, it is obvious that a failure to address the problem while young can lead to legal problems later.
While there aren’t laws designating consequences for bullying, according to Utah Legal Code Annotated 53A-11-904, bullying is grounds for suspension or expulsion from school.
However, carrying that bullying to an act of physical aggression, either by the bully or the victim, is a crime. If your child has been accused of assault related to bullying, make sure to contact a juvenile defense attorney who is sympathetic and experienced and will look out for your child’s best interests.