Bullying is becoming more prevalent today than ever and we as parents need to learn how to recognize it, and stop it.
What is Bullying?
When one person or a group repeatedly tries to harm someone who is vulnerable or weaker with unwanted aggressive behavior that involves physical or emotional harm it is considered bullying. It can be intimidating, malicious teasing, damaging or stealing belongings, taunting, hitting, threatening, name-calling, spreading rumors, encouraging others to exclude someone or making sexual remarks.
How do I recognize it?
The signs of a Child who is being Bullied are:
• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self- esteem
• Sudden loss of interest in school
• Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
• Frequent complaints of illnesses
• Unexplainable injuries
• Change in eating habits
• Torn or lost clothing & school books
• Declining grades
• Avoidance of friends or social activities
• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talk of suicide.
The signs of a Child who is Bullying Othersare:
• Increasingly aggressive behaviors
• Gets into physical or verbal fights
• Has friends who bully others
• Gets sent to principal's office or detention often
• Does not accept responsibility for their actions
• Competitive and worries about their popularity and reputation
• Blames others for their problems
• Has unexplained money or new belongings
• Has been a victim of bullying themselves
Bullies get a sense of power over their victims and that is why they do it. But they will not have this power unless the victim gives it to them.
What Can Children Do if They Are Bullied?
1. The most important thing is to stay calm and do not show a strong reaction to the aggressive behavior by showing fear or anger. This includes facial expressions or body language.
2. Act Confident. Hold your head up, stand up straight, don't look away, make eye contact. It is not as fun for a bully if you are acting confident and often times it is just enough to make them stop.
3. Speak strongly and firmly. Use your tone of voice. If you can't speak firmly than say nothing at all and walk away. Don't use profanity it provokes.
4. Make friends with other students. You are less likely to be targeted if you are with a group.
5. Don't resort to violence or by carrying a weapon. A gun will not make you safer it will only escalate the conflict and increase the chances of you being seriously injured.
6. Change up your route to and from school or leave at different times and walk with others instead of alone.
7. Avoid areas that are isolated or unsupervised adult areas.
8. Do not retaliate. Sometimes you can make a joke, laugh at yourself.
9. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor or principal that you trust about it. Don't feel ashamed or embarrassed.
What Can Parents Do to Stop Bullying?
1. Find another adult to step in with you and stay calm and model respectful behavior when you intervene and separate the kids who are involved.
2. Call police if there is a weapon, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, violence threats, hate-related racism or homophobia, or illegal act.
3. Don't assume that kids can work it out without an adult's intervention.
4. Don't question the children in front of the other kids or talk to the kids involved together. Do so separately.
5. Don't try to have the children apologize right there and then.
6. Contact the school superintendent or someone involved in a program against bullying.
7. If you think a child has suicide symptoms contact the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
8. If the bullying causes physical or serious emotional injury, report it to the police and consider speaking with an attorney about taking legal action.