Report: Bullying is a public health threat, not a rite of passage

Posted at 5:28 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 19:28:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a book-length report outlining the problem of bullying and the best practices for preventing it, ultimately concluding that bullying is a serious public health problem.

The report, titled "Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy and Practice," recommends continued study of the health effects experienced by those who are bullied and those who bully, and they suggest broad intervention focused on positive social and emotional skills rather than on "zero-tolerance" punishment models.

Sunset Ridge Middle School in West Jordan has been recognized as a model of intervention, helping students who might otherwise be victims or bullies.

"We have a culture in this building where everybody is allowed to be who they are, and everyone should be recognized for their individual preferences without any kind of retaliation," said Amber Zdunich, Assistant Principal at Sunset Ridge.

Zdunich said the program focuses on encouraging empathy by the following: training a team of "Student Ambassadors" who help introduce new students to the school and intervene on behalf of students who may be bullied; pairing struggling students with mentors who share similar interests; checking in weekly with students who are having social or emotional trouble.