All About Bullying
It is a fact of life, bullying exists day in and day out. Just because it exists, that doesn’t mean that it is right or that we should just accept it – not at all. There is good news in the midst of all of this. The good news is that adult and kids can work together to make bullying stop. Education, intervention, and support are key ways to make this dream a reality.
If you are a parent, you are in a unique position to empower your child, no matter what role in the bullying dynamic they are playing. Parenting interventions have found you by clicking here. Take a good look and decide how to best support your child.
If you are a teacher, you too are in a unique position to make bullying stop. Here, you will find teacher interventions that can be employed today. Do your students the favor helping them to feel safe and comfortable while in school. This will then result in showing you how productive they can be when their concerns over bullying are gone. The results will make everyone smile!
What is bullying?
Many people may think of bullying as acts of physical aggression or attacks. However there are many more ways that bullying can to occur. To begin with, bullying can be described as including any of the following:
Physical Violence or assault
Bullying occurs when acts such as those listed above occur repeatedly over time and against a person(s) who is inferior in power to defend oneself successfully. Children in these situations need to be taught assertiveness skills and reassurance that it is okay to ask an adult for help. Having confidence that adults will help to resolve bullying situations is critical. Children who do not trust in adults’ ability to help stop bullying will continue to be victims, lash out at the bully, and/or try to escape the situation at the cost of safety. Each of these choices creates more of a dilemma for our children and families.
What Kinds of Bullying exist?
Physical Bullying. Physical bullying can include any form of physical aggression, such as kicking or hitting, pushing, slapping, elbowing, pinching, punching, scratching, biting or spitting.
Verbal Bullying. Verbal bullying involves no physical strength and can be hard to detect. This form of bullying can include name-calling, picking on others, threatening emails, calls, notes or cyber bullying. Verbal bullying leaves no physical marks behind. However it can be even more traumatic and emotionally damaging.
Relational Bullying. Relational bullying is based on the differences between individuals. Victims of this kind of bullying are usually separated from the crowd. This is mostly done through being ignored, mocked or deliberately excluded. Also commonly seen in relational bullying is gossiping, rumor spreading and allegations Relational bullies usually work in groups, recruiting others help to alienate the bullying victim.
Cyber Bullying. Cyber bullying is a widespread and is an effective form of attacking a victim. Cyber bullies use social networks, email or text messages to attack their victims. Attacks are usually private, threatening and can be frightening if the victim feels they cannot prove they are being harassed. There is no escaping this type of bullying. No matter where the child, they are exposed to cyber communication.
What are the Effects of Bullying?
Whether bullying takes a physical, verbal or emotional form it can have long lasting effects on victims. It can have an effect on the individual’s social skills, self-esteem and family or peer relationships. Although physical bullying can be painful and leave physical marks or injury in serious cases, emotional bullying can hit its victims even harder.
Children and teens who are the targets of bullying which attacks their self esteem or social skills can begin to lose self-confidence and feel unworthy. They may feel scared, vulnerable or even extremely frightened. If a child lacks the emotional maturity or self-esteem to be able to face their bullying problem, they can suffer high levels of stress, anxiety and even depression. They may become anti-social or withdrawn, or become sullen or angry.
The effects of bullying have shown to have long lasting consequences for the individual. Research indicates that children and adolescents who have undergone extreme cases of bullying, may ultimately suffer academically or in their ability to learn. Bullied teens are twice as likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, develop an eating disorder, suffer from mental health problems or suffer from serious depression.
How to Recognize Signs of Bullying
It is important to be able to recognize when a child is being bullied. Common clues include:
Sudden refusal to go to school
Crying, weeping or sobbing for no reason
Sudden lack of interest in playing with or visiting friends
Torn clothes, missing personal belongings, asking for extra money
Unusual physical scars or marks
Loss of appetite or excessive eating
Nightmares, inability to sleep or excessive desire to sleep
Desire to take a weapon to school
Tips for Preventing or Dealing with Bullying
Dealing with a child or teen who is being bullied can be a delicate situation. For an intervention approach to be effective we must take into account the child’s age, maturity and even personality. It is important to communicate with the child in a way that helps them feel supported and to come up with tools and strategies that truly help to defend themselves in a non-violent manner. Take a look at the following tips:
1. Listen before talking.
Giving advice or opinions on how to deal with a problem may appear to be a reasonable approach. However, kids who are coping with being bullied need to feel heard and supported. We can use active listening skills to find out about a bullying problem and how the child feels or what they think about the situation.
2. Ask Interactive Questions
Kids who are being bullied might be reluctant to talk about it, so asking them outright if they are being bullied is not necessarily effective. However, taking an interest in their personal lives, interests, and friends is a good way to get them to open up. Try to ask open ended and interactive questions by asking the child how they feel and discussing an action plan with them.
3. Teach Kids about Bullying
Talking to children about what bullying is, why it might happen, and how to deal with it can be an essential tool providing them with bully proof armor.
4. Offer Consistent Support and Empathy
Make sure that children and teens know that you are always there for them. If a child feels supported, comforted and listened to they will be more likely to share their thoughts and feelings when they are facing difficult situations. Always make your child feel that you are in this situation together and reassure them that you will find a solution to the problem as a team.
5. Teach Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution Skills.
Actively teaching children and teens how to use critical and creative thinking skills such as reasoning, logical thinking and negotiation, can give them confidence when they come to face conflict situations.
6. Teach Kids Assertiveness Skills.
Standing up to bullies can be a frightening. Teaching kids effective communication skills and how to be confidant when interacting with others is essential in preventing and coping with bullying. Practicing these skills with your children will go even further in helping them use the skills independently. Showing our kids how to be self-confident and helping them to feel competent, can greatly affect how they interact with others. Encouraging kids’ talents and providing them with opportunities to shine can help boost their self-confidence and self esteem as well.
7. Create Non-Violent Tools for Self Defense.
Kids might find it difficult to find non-violent alternatives to violence or aggression. We can teach them:
- To ignore. Bullies want a reaction and to create negative feelings. If we teach kids to simply walk away and not to react to bullying tactics, they will show the bullies that their strategies are ineffective.
- To be self-confident. If bullies see that their verbal attacks are answered by non-emotional responses, they will eventually give up.
- To be a helpful bystander. Research shows that bullying is most quickly halted when an outsider to the situation intervenes. Teaching kids to be responsible for each other, to stand up for each other and to have the self confidence to support bullying victims or report bullying, can make a bad situation quickly stop.