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Bullying is more than innocent teasing

Hoosiers encouraged to stand up to bullying

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As some Hoosiers observe today's International Stand Up to Bullying Day, a recent survey finds the majority of adults believe bullying is more prevalent than ever.

The poll was released by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which promotes safe, inclusive and respectful social environments. Its executive director, Sean Kosofsky, said bullying is more than innocent teasing because it can leave emotional scars for years to come.

"For generations, people saw bullying as a right of passage, but things are getting far more severe in terms of the lasting impact of online bullying," he said. "These things don't go away now. It also doesn't stop at the school door."

While there is increased awareness, Kosofsky said, bullying still is viewed as a "not in my backyard" problem, with just 12 percent of respondents saying it is a serious problem for youths in their own county.

The poll also found most parents are conflicted when it comes to teaching children how to appropriately respond to bullying, with just half of respondents saying children should notify an adult. Kosofsky said men were much more likely to recommend direct confrontation than were women.

"We are a big believer in being upstanders," he said. "When people are bystanders and they see something happening wrong, they should do something, but we don't necessarily advise doing something unsafe."

Bullying is not just a schoolyard problem. Kosofsky said half of those polled have experienced or witnessed bullying on the job.

"It really is a pattern of power and aggression that occurs to basically influence your own authority over someone," he said, "and it's really disruptive to learning, and to workers. "

International Stand Up to Bullying Day encourages people to make a pledge to take a visible, public stance against bullying.

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