What is Bullying?
Bullying can take many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, or a combination. It involves an imbalance of power where the victim feels upset, while the bully is in control. The bully also lacks compassion or concern for the child being bullied.
“Being bullied is not just an unpleasant rite of passage through childhood,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the National Institute of Child Health. “It’s a public health problem that merits attention. People who were bullied as children are more likely to suffer from depression and low self esteem, well into adulthood, and the bullies themselves are more likely to engage in criminal behavior later in life.” This statement was made in response to a survey, conducted by the National Institute of Child Health in 2001, of 15,686 students in grades 6 through 10. The survey found that about 19% of the students said they had bullied others and 16% of the students said they had been bullied.
What Can be Done?
This study suggests that something needs to be done. The study’s authors suggest devising ways to intervene against bullying, such as school intervention programs, which have been found to be successful in Norway and England.
One of these programs is the “Take A Stand” program developed by Dr. Sherryll Kraizer, who has a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in youth at risk. The program focuses on educating children about bullying, the effects, how to stop bullies, and the importance of accepting and respecting all children. When implementing a school bullying program it is important for parents and teachers to recognize and learn intervention techniques. Rules against bullying must be established and consequences enforced. Students who have been bullied can benefit from a support program.
If your district doesn’t have a bully prevention program bring up the issue in a School Board meeting. Get other parents to petition for the program.
As a parent we can teach our children from a young age to not be bullies and not to be bullied. We can help them by giving them words to express their feelings and limit their behavior. Teaching them better ways to express their feelings and wishes. Children have to be taught how to get along with others. It is also important to teach your child empathy for others. Help them have the courage to stand up for those being bullied.
If Your Child is Being Bullied.
Listen to your child and find out exactly what has happened and how often it happens. Talk to your child’s teacher and have the teacher discuss the bullies’ behavior with the bullies parents. It is usually better to not confront the other child’s parents directly. You can also help your child by role-playing different situations and help them practice different responses to bullying.
Dr. Kraizer lists several ideas you can share with your child:
· discuss alternatives to responding to bullies.
· don’t react, walk away, get help if pursued
· agree with the bully, saying “You’re right.” and walking away.
· be assertive.
If Your Child is the Bully
Don’t be defensive listen to what really happened. It is important to stop bullying behaviors before they escalate into violent behaviors. This behavior is often caused by feelings of vulnerability. You need to look at what is happening in your child’s life that is causing them to behave this way. As a parent you need to help your child stop the behavior then teach and reward more appropriate behavior.
When discussing the behavior with your child do not blame your child, or focus on “why” something happened. Instead Dr. Kraizer lists several key points you should focus on:
· Bullying is not acceptable in our family or in society.
· If you are feeling frustrated or angry or aggressive, here are some things you can do.
· Remember to role-play, act out the new behaviors.
· Ask, how can I help you with this? Who could you go to in school if you see yourself getting into this type of situation again?
· Specify concretely the consequences if the aggression or bullying continues.
See also: Sticking Up For Your Kids: A Stand Against Bullying in our Education Blog