Is your child being bullied?
It can be hard to differentiate bullying from developmentally appropriate banter among children. Some indicators of bullying include:
• Intentions: Consider whether or not the peer is intentionally trying to hurt your child’s feelings.
• Harmful: Elavuate whether or not your child has been physically or emotionally harmed.
• Frequency: Bullying is typically repetitive versus a one-time occurrence.
• Imbalance of Power. The bully usually has a source of power over the child being bullied, such as age, size, strength or social status.
There are different types of bullying:
• Physical threats
• Verbal bullying
• Social exclusion
Warning signs Of bullying include:
• Reduced academic performance
• Suddenly has fewer friends
• Lower self-esteem
• Not wanting to go to school or participate in after school activities
• Changes in sleeping and eating habits
• Appears upset after phone calls, texts or using the computer
• Looses books, electronics, clothing or jewelry
• Unexplained injuries
• Avoids certain places
• Suicidal thoughts
Steps you can take to help your child with bullying:
• Help your child understand bullying. There are constant media stories about instances of bullying. Use them as a teachable moment to discuss this issue with your child. Reinforce that it is never your child’s fault if they are bullied. It is not a reflection of anything wrong with them. The bully chose to use mean behavior — they are the ones that need help.
• Keep tabs on your child. Check in about their school day, worries or concerns. Find out whom they ate their lunch with, or who they sat with on the bus. Teach your child how to say “no” to bullying behaviors. Strategize with them about what they would do if they are confronted by a bully. Practice their responses. This should build their self-confidence.
• Children should be encouraged to travel in groups, be calm and direct when confronting bullies and tell them that their behavior is not okay. Children should avoid fighting, but rather go immediately to get an adult to intervene. If there is no adult present, they should report the instance after the fact.
• Be informed. Learn about your school’s policy towards bullying. Find out who you can speak to if your child is bullied. It’s also helpful to write down the details regarding the incident(s) as this record can be helpful to school administrators or the police. If it’s cyber-bullying, keep copies of all messages or postings.
• Commit to making bullying stop. Work closely with your school administrators, other parents and if needed, local law enforcement if the bullying persists or escalates. Get help for your child to deal with the stresses of bullying. Speak with a school counselor or a mental health professional for support.
For children, If you are bullied or see someone getting bullied the best thing to do is speak up!
• Tell an adult. Someone must step in and help you. You are not snitching, you are putting an end to abusive behavior.
• Be friendly. Say a few kind words to the child that was bullied. It will make a world of difference to them.
• Get involved. Find out about your school’s bullying prevention program and join the movement. Bullying is not okay. Be part of the solution.
Eileen Dummer MA, LPCC