Sociologists studying bullying among children are seeing a frightening trend: more children who are committing suicide as a result of being mercilessly bullied by other children, and in some cases, even by adults.
Know how you can prevent bullying
Bullies seem to be everywhere … from in-person physical and emotional abuse, to online horrific self-depicting photos, name-calling and threats. Bullying is prevalent throughout the world. It cuts across socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, educational, religious and cultural lines.
Bullying is aggressive behavior intentionally perpetrated by one or more individuals against another person, and usually involves an imbalance of power or strength
We often think of bullying as a physical act but a great deal of bullying is verbal. More and more bullying is taking place through social media as kids anonymously, and sometimes ferociously, tell lies about other kids in an effort to hurt them. This “cyberbullying” is often facilitated through various social media organizations such as Facebook and Twitter. Bullying can be purely psychological, as when groups of children intentionally shun another child from joining in a game or sitting with them at lunch.
Boys often bully others using physical means, while girls bully by way of social exclusion and harmful gossip. Being repeatedly bullied can lead to poorer social skills and lower self-esteem, avoidant behavior and shyness, which in turn, can make these children targets for even more bullying. Bullied children often find it difficult to stand-up for themselves. Helping children do so, and feel supported, is one very powerful way to help a child.
Signs of Bullying
Children are not always vocal about being bullied. If your child is a target of bullying, they may suffer physically and emotionally. Here are some things to look for:
- Increased passivity or withdrawal
- Sudden drop in grades
- Recurrent physical complaints (stomach aches, headaches)
- Unexplained bruises
- School avoidant
- Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
- Decreased appetite
- Short tempered, angry or anxious
- Frequent crying
- Sadness, even depressed
Things to Consider if Your Child Is Being Bullied
It can be extraordinarily difficulty to know or witness any child, let alone your own, being bullied. As someone in law enforcement, it’s probably especially difficult for you to witness and yet it’s easy to feel somewhat powerless. There are things you and children CAN DO to reduce and prevent bullying. We’ve listed a number of steps you can try. Don’t be discouraged if there isn’t immediate improvement. But with a little time and focused commitment on the part of parents and other responsible adults, you can put an end to bullying.
What Parents & Other Adults Can Do
- Know the signs of bullying and keep vigilant for the wellbeing of your child, and any other children in your care.
- Speak to your child or others in a non-judgmental way; listen attentively and give them time to open up. Bullied kids can be scared to share these behaviors with their own loving parents.
- Intervene quickly when you suspect there might be bullying.
- Reassure your child that you support them and you will stand by their side and address this matter.
- Involve an intermediary like a principal, teacher or coach to help stop bullying.
- Ask your child and intermediaries about what is happening at school and in their life in general, especially if you see any mood or behavioral changes.
- Educate your children of how their words and actions can impact the bully.
- Make sure you set up proper filters on your child’s computer.
- Teach your children not to forward or respond to derogatory or threatening emails; have them show you the email if possible.
- Whenever possible, have your child avoid being alone where there is no responsible adult supervision.
What Kids Can Do
- Talk to them to help them understand no one has the right to bully them, nothing they could do is justification for bullying and that something has to be done to stop it.
- Help your child identify teachers, other adults and friends that can help them if they are worried about being bullied.
- Strategies children can use when approached by a bully include: ignoring the remark, walking away, seeking help in the moment from adults – even walking in the direction of adults may be sufficient.
- Sometimes merely speaking, without name calling, and saying something like “that’s not cool” can help reduce or prevent bullying.
- Work with your child to develop and associate with friends and commute in groups.
- Engage your child in activities that build self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Teach your child self-defense techniques.
- If absolutely necessary, it may help to teach your children how to physically defend themselves.
For more information on what KIDS can do, click here.
Putting an end to the harm bullying does involves a commitment on the part of parents, educators, coaches and responsible adults alike to create a safe environment where children can thrive socially and academically, without fear.
-Drs Barbara Pavlo & Kevin Jablonski