Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere, anytime, anyplace. It is not a phase children have to go through, it is not just “boys being boys”, it is not a “rite of passage”, it is not "just messing around", and it is not something that kids just learn to grow out of. Bullying is a serious, nationwide problem that can have lasting harmful effects. In some cases, it has even resulted in death. Although definitions and severity of bullying can vary, most agree that bullying involves:
- Imbalance of Power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves
- Intent to Cause Harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm
- Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group
Bullying can take many forms. Examples include:
- Verbal: name-calling, teasing, saying or writing mean, hurtful things
- Social: spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships, not talking to someone on purpose, making someone feel uncomfortable or scared, making someone do something that they do not want to do
- Physical: hitting, punching, shoving, kicking, threatening, taking or damaging their things
- Cyberbullying: using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others
An act of bullying may fit into more than one of these groups.
Updates and Trends:
- Today, an estimated 200 million children and youth around the world are being victimized by their peers.
- It is estimated that 10-15 % of children repeatedly bully others, and 10-15% of
- children are repeatedly bullied.
- Gender differences have been found indicating that boys are bullied physically more often than girls. Girls are generally more often involved in indirect forms of aggression, such as excluding others, rumor spreading and unpleasant manipulating of situations to hurt those they do not like.
- Although there is no consistent evidence that bullying overall is increasing, one area of growing concern among children is cyber bullying
- Bullying has been reported as occurring in every school and kindergarten or day-care environment in which it has been investigated
Talking to children: Use the following tips to discuss the topic of bullying with your children:
- Parent-to-child Communication: Ask you children how their day is going, what they did during recess, ask about their friends, and about their teachers. Maintaining an open line of communication is the key to knowing what is going on in their lives.
- Self-esteem: A healthy self-esteem is one way to help them overcome a potential bully. Teaching your children to be confident in themselves, in what they accomplish, and praising their efforts are ways to a positive and healthy lifestyle. It is important for you to show your support by getting involved. Encourage them to play sports, take on a hobby, to volunteer their time helping others, and other fun and creative things.
- Social Skills: Provide your children with plenty of opportunities to socialize and build healthy friendships. Encourage them to play sports, take on a hobby, to volunteer their time helping others, and other fun and creative things.
- Open Communication: Teach your children it is okay for them to reach out to other adults for help when they need help. Reassure them they can turn to you or any other trusting adult when they are uncomfortable with any situation.
Risk Factors and Warning Signs:
- Bruises or injuries
- Changes with eating, sleeping, and activity patterns
- Avoiding situations (refusing to go to school, refusing to get on the bus, etc.)
- Low-Self Esteem
- Low grades
- Suicidal thoughts
- Health problems
- Cry themselves to sleep
- Refuse to talk about what is bothering them
- Money is missing (bully takes it)
- Start stealing or ask for money (to pay the bully)
- Begin to bully other kids (siblings)
- Become aggressive, unreasonable, and/or violent
- Their possessions are missing.
Coping Skills and Techniques:
- Ask your child(ren) directly if they are being bullied.
- Refuse to keep the bullying a secret.
- Arrange to meet your child(ren) at school when it is most likely to occur.
- Make it clear to your child(ren) it is important to avoid the bully altogether.
- Report the bullying to school officials.
- Reassure your child it is not their fault they have been bullied.
- Teach your child it’s okay to walk away, report it, and to stay away from the bully(ies).
- Sign your child up for an activity they really like (it is important to build self-esteem).
- Teach your child bullies are insecure, have a low self-esteem, and pick on others to make themselves look and feel better.
- Encourage your kid(s) to talk and vent about the bullying.
- Report the bullying to the bully’s parents if you have to.