Bullying involves a power imbalance where either through physical, verbal, or emotional manipulation, one child establishes power over another child. Bullying can even come in the form of texting and social media. It can be subtle or overt, but it’s harmful in any form.
Unfortunately, bullying is common. According to the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, close to half of all children will experience school bullying at some point, and at least 10 percent of children are bullied regularly.
Bullying can have lasting effects into adulthood, causing self-esteem issues and depression and negatively impacting the development of normal relationships. In some severe cases, children can become violent or have self-harming thoughts or gestures.
Signs your child may be being bullied:
- Avoidance of school or social situations
- Decline in overall school performance
- Decreased self-esteem
- Fear associated with school
- Unexplained injuries such as bruises, scrapes, or torn clothing
- Frequent stomach aches, headaches, or sleep issues
- Faking illness
If you think your child is being bullied or bullying others, it is important to act immediately. Address the issue directly with your child, and bring it to the attention of your child’s teachers or administration. Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult who can give support, encouragement, and advice on dealing with bullies.
There are ways to possibly prevent bullying:
- Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Check in with them often. Know their friends. Be aware of social dynamics at play. Make it safe for them to approach you about being bullied.
- Talk about bullying. Make sure they know how to recognize it when it is happening to them or to someone else. Make sure they know who to go to for help.
- Model how to treat others with kindness and respect always.
Encourage them to be themselves. Help them explore their own special interests and hobbies in order to boost self-esteem.
- Close to half of all children will be bullied at some point.
- If your child is starting to avoid school and even fake an illness, they may be bullied.
- Know your child’s friends, and make sure they understand how to recognize bullying.
You both make very good points! I agree with Shelley, bullying is not a one time incident. Bullying occurs over time and can have devastating effects. And Kristen pointed out that the bullies themselves are often hurting individuals themselves. While this does not excuse their behavior, we should be reaching out them them as well. Also, we should be teaching and empowering our children early on to try to prevent these issues from arising in our school, on the playgrounds or throughout our communities.
Being a teacher I always explain to my students that bullying is not a one time incident, it occurs over a period of time. We actually have “Be A Buddy Not A Bully” week in which we focus on all of the aspects of bullying. We teach our students what a bully is, the various types of bullying, what to do if you are being bullied, the longterm effects of the victim, and how to be a good friend to others. Not only is it important for schools to do their part and reinforce the importance of respecting others, parents need to do the same at home.
I think addressing the issue in schools is an excellent idea! I agree that it should definitely be reinforced at home. Sadly, not all parents are that involved, so it’s great that some schools are taking it on!
I would like to see a study or stats on kids who DO the bullying. I honestly feel worse for a child who feels the need to put others down in order to make themselves feel better. Having an 18-month-old child, so I don’t quite have to deal with the issue of bullying yet, but when the time comes, I hope I will be able to explain that children who bully others are often hurting and sad themselves.