A young girl recently showed me a picture of a student at her school. The picture had been snapped on a cell phone and then texted to her and many others at the school. Sadly, all who laughed at and shared that photo were unknowingly involved in cyberbullying. This "mass bullying" has led to severe depression and even suicide in many of our nations schools.
What is bullying?
"Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power".
Bullying takes on many forms such as: physical bullying, verbal bullying, nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying. Also, in our world of texting, cyberbullying which happens by phone or email, is an ever-growing form of bullying.
What are some signs of bullying?
There are many signs and often we just have to trust our instincts as parents in recognizing and dealing with our child either bullying or being bullied. Here is a list compiled from a few websites:
- be frightened of walking to and from school
- change their usual route
- not want you to go on the school bus
- have few or no friends
- begin to bully other children, siblings
- sad, moody, teary or depressed
- be unwilling to go to school (or be 'school phobic')
- feel ill in the morning
- continual headaches, stomachaches or other ailments
- begin doing poorly in their school work
- come home regularly with clothes or books destroyed
- come home starving
- become withdrawn, start stammering, lack confidence
- become distressed and anxious, stop eating
- attempt or threaten suicide
- cry themselves to sleep, have nightmares
- have their possessions go missing
- ask for money or start stealing
- refuse to talk about what's wrong
- have unexplained bruises, cuts, scratches
- become aggressive and unreasonable
- give improbable excuses for any of the above
- suffers from low self-esteem
Talking to your child
If you suspect bullying you need to talk to your child. Ask questions such as:
- Who do you play with?
- Who do you sit with at lunch or on the bus?
- Do you have a special friend? Is there anyone you don't really like? Why?
- Do they ever tease you or pick on you?
What to do if your child is being bullied
Help your child avoid interaction of any sort with the bully. Interaction with a bully only leads to more insecurity and fear. The following steps are provided by kidshealth.org:
- Don't give the bully a chance. As much as you can, avoid the bully.
- Stand tall and be brave. Sometimes just acting brave is enough to stop a bully.
- Feel good about you. Nobody's perfect, but what can you do to look and feel your best?
- Get a buddy (and be a buddy). Two is better than one if you're trying to avoid being bullied.
- Ignore the bully. Pretend you don't hear them and walk away quickly to a place of safety. Bullies want a big reaction to their teasing and meanness.
- Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. Tell the bully "No! Stop it!" in a loud voice. Then walk away, or run if you have to.
- Don't bully back. Don't hit, kick, or push back to deal with someone bullying you or your friends. It's best to stay with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
- Don't show your feelings. Try distracting yourself (counting backwards from 100, spelling the word 'turtle' backwards, etc.) to keep your mind occupied until you are out of the situation and somewhere safe where you can show your feelings.
- Tell an adult. If you are being bullied, it's very important to tell an adult. Find someone you trust and go and tell them what is happening to you.
* Information found on various websites including: