Last month we delved into one of the fears that most parents of school-age children have: their child being bullied. It seems as though we often hear about the victims of bullies and how their home- and/or school-life is so troubled, but rarely do we hear about the life of bully. Bullies are pointed out to be mean and vengeful, and people are quick to let these children fall through the cracks because they are seen to be hopeless cases. But what many forget is that these children are just that- children. More often than not, there are several factors that cause a child’s outward behavior to result in bullying. And just as we look at ways to help the victims of bullying, it’s also important to look at ways to help the bully overcome whatever it is that makes them lash out at others.
The victims of bullies and bullies themselves do have one thing in common: the issue does not discriminate. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Socioeconomic status, race or religion do not play large roles in identifying children who are most likely to bully. Extensive research has been conducted over the years about what causes children to become bullies, and there is no set formula to identify them. However, researchers have found the following risk factors to be most prevalent:
- Boys are more likely to bully than girls, but girls target emotions and social status whereas boys are usually more physical;
- Low parental involvement;
- History of abuse and/or exposure to violence;
- A tendency towards hostility and impulsivity with little to no empathy or regard for authority;
- Little to no interest in school or school-related activities;
- Lack of supervision (school or parental).
Many states and schools have taken on programs to prevent bullying, but it still seems to be a big issue in many places. Society has taken on a large part in recognizing the victims of bullies, especially through social media. But research suggests that one of the most important factors is a child’s home life. Here are some tips for parents as to what you can do to help your child from becoming a bully:
- Talk to your child about what it means to be a bully and how their actions affect those around them;
- Stay involved in your child’s school- and home-life, and make sure the school is held accountable for the actions of all the children during the school day;
- Limit the exposure to violence on television and/or video games;
- SET A GOOD EXAMPLE.
The best way to prevent children from becoming bullies is to look at the above risk factors and decide what we as parents, as school administrators, and as society can do to minimize them. We must identify children at risk for becoming bullies and give them the help they need. With this, we can hopefully make a difference and give every child the opportunity to have a great school and childhood experience.