ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say physical bullying has decreased but cyberbullying has become more frequent in today’s youth. Our Capitol Correspondent Amal Tlaige spoke with an expert about a recent high profile bullying incident and what we can do to prevent and intervene. 

“I mean these are also assaults, these are physical assaults… I think it brings it to an even other level in terms of you know criminal offenses,” said Amanda Nickerson, Director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University of Buffalo. Video after video have surfaced on the internet, showing students being aggressively pummeled. Most recently, New Jersey teen, 14-year-old Adriana Kuch died by suicide just two days after students recorded and posted a video to social media showing Kuch being hit in the face with a water bottle and falling to the floor, where she was then hit repeatedly by students. This took place at The Central Regional School District. 

Is this learned behavior from a student’s home life? Nickerson said it’s a combination, “It’s a community problem, we have to work with parents, and parents also have to take responsibility, and how are they raising their kids, and what values are they passing on, and if the school is trying to implement a certain approach, or have consequences, are the parents doing the same thing?” Nickerson said students should be taught social emotional skills to best manage their emotions. She also points to bystander intervention as a solution, “I mean I think that that is such a key for bullying, for harassment, for racism… ”

Nickerson teaches a five step process to intervening 

  1. Notice what’s happening
  2. Identify that it’s a problem that requires help 
  3. Accept responsibility to do something about the issue 
  4. Know your options: whether that means reporting the incident to adults or intervening directly if it’s safe to do so
  5. Distracting: Getting attention away from the target and out of the situation 

The school posted their bullying action plan on their website. In part it includes the creation of a steering committee, establishing a toll free hotline for students to call and additional training for faculty, staff and parents to recognize potential problems and how to help. In Albany, Amal Tlaige.