BOISE, Idaho —
More than 20 percent of Idaho students say they've experienced feeling bullied, according to a Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
“I struggled with confidence, just self-esteem in general,” said Brianna Wallin, a Kuna mother of two. She said that not only did bullying impact her self-esteem when she was younger, she also found herself becoming a people pleaser, something she wasn’t able to work on until later in life.
Wallin is one of many who have personal experience with bullying.
Payette mother, Amanda Bryant, said her son was bullied and picked on a lot in the eighth grade.
“He never really told us about it or talked about it,” said Bryant. “The next thing I know, I got a call from his friend saying Isaac got beat up and his head was bleeding.”
The conversation surrounding bullying came front and center after a Utah mother shared her story about her 12-year-old son committing suicide after being bullied earlier this month.
“My heart goes out to them, I saw that and as a mother and victim of bullying, I have no patience for it,” said Sherri Ybarra, the Idaho superintendent of education.
Ybarra said as a child she too, was bullied until her parents intervened, and in the era she grew up in, bullying was seen as a rite of passage to adulthood. but research now shows that's not the case.
“The research has been showing that this is connected to suicide, Idaho ranks about 5th in the nation for suicide. So as a parent, as a mother, as a former third-grade teacher this is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart because it's personal.” Ybarra said.
In 2015, Idaho legislation defined bullying.
"Harassment, intimidation, cyberbullying all of those things are in that definition,” Ybarra said.
Ybarra also said that the legislature includes a set of graduated consequences that students who violate the bullying statute will face, and that there are resources available for someone who is being bullied.
“I want parents to know that actually you can go to my department's website and there is a form there that they can actually report an incident. Across the state, a lot of our school districts are engaging in programs like the Idaho lives project.” Ybarra said.
Ybarra added that people can find the Gatekeeper training on the Idaho state department of education website, a free suicide prevention training.
There’s also a tip line called See Tell Now, where people can call or go online to report instances of bullying.
“Talk to your kids, make sure they understand bullies are successful because they often remain in the dark,” Ybarra said. “You want the bully to be brought into the light, it is not tattling, it is probably saving someone else from going through what you 're going through.”
Idaho is also training teachers best practices and how to report bullying incidents across the state.
“Please know what your child is doing on social media and report, report, report,” Ybarra said.
As for Wallin, she’s using her experience of being bullied to help her 8-year-old daughter avoid the same experience.
“I don’t want her to grow up with the same insecurities if I can help it. I want her to learn boundaries for herself.” Wallin said.
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