“I just want the bullying to stop. That is all I ever wanted. I used to love going to school. Now I hate it.” –Verity Ward, 9-years old, as quoted in the Sunday Telegraph, March 2000
The beginning of the new school year brings about many concerns for parents, one of which is bullying. And in light of the case of Amanda Todd, a 15-year old girl who committed suicide after being incessantly bullied, more and more people are facing the harsh reality that bullying is real. And perhaps, bullying is worse than ever because of the social media outlets now used to conduct the acts. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter bring bullying into the home and give no relief to the children being bullied. It reaches further than it did before and it is relentless.
Bullying is a serious issue, and it is not an issue that discriminates. Bullies are found in low socio-economic schools and high socio-economic schools. They are of every race and religion. They come from intact homes and broken homes. Bullies are everywhere and although parents, teachers, and administrators have become more proactive in preventing these acts it is still important to educate ourselves so that we may become advocates for both the children who are being bullied and the bullies themselves.
First we need to understand what it means to bully someone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a [repetitive or potentially repetitive] real or perceived power imbalance” (stopbullying.gov). There are several types of bullying include verbal, physical, relational (i.e., bullying with the intent to damage relationships or reputations), and cyber-bullying. Statistics show that 28% of children in grades 6-12 experience bullying at some point in their school career (stopbullying.gov).
If you have a suspicion that your child is being bullied, your instincts are probably correct. One of the most common signs that a child is being harassed is their change in behavior. This can manifest itself in several ways, including frequent complaints of illness (either to stay home from school or because their anxiety levels about going to school are so high that it makes them physically ill), moodiness, sadness, or loss of self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, appears to be afraid of going to school or in social situations surrounding kids from school. Most children will not tell their parent that they are being bullied, so it is up to us to watch for the signs and frequently talk to our children about what they are experiencing at school. You can also talk with the teachers and staff to see if they have noticed a change in your child’s behavior or quality of schoolwork.
Below is a list of resources to help you identify if your child is being bullied and ways you may be able to help them deal with the stressors at home. Be sure to keep your child’s teacher and school informed of what you are doing at home, and hold them accountable for the actions of other students.
Stop Bullying (stopbullying.gov)
National Bullying Prevention Center (http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/)
Bullied to Death: An ABC News Special- This video and article gives several different websites on bully recognition and prevention (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/TheLaw/bullied-death-resources-bullying-information-deal-bullies/story?id=11872132#.UHuSba5wi88)
Come back soon to read more about how to recognize if your child is the bully, and what you can do to help prevent your child from becoming a bully.