Bullying is aggressive behavior among school-aged children. The behavior is unwanted by the victim(s). To be considered bullying, the behavior has to be repeated, or have the potential to be repeated, over time. Actions such as spreading rumors, making threats, intentionally trying to scare someone, physically or verbally attacking someone, and purposely excluding someone from a group, are all forms of bullying. Bullying can occur face to face, behind someone’s back, or on the internet.
When a child is being bullied it takes a huge toll on his/her self-esteem. Just to have you understand what it is like to be the victim of bullying, here are some common thoughts of a child who is being bullied:
- What is wrong with me?
- Is this ever going to stop?
- I am too embarrassed to tell anyone about this
- I don’t want to go to school tomorrow (or ever again)
- I can’t have one day in school that I enjoy
- Am I going to get seriously injured?
- I wish I was never born
- What is the point of even living if I have to go through this every day?
- I feel so alone
- Why do I live in such a cruel world?
- No one can help me
Victims of bullying have felt so hurt that they have committed suicide. We can’t let this happen to our children. We have to take a stand to protect them.
Here are some things we can do to help stop bullying and to protect our children from the effects of bullying:
- Talk to your child about bullying before they enter school and talk to your students when they enter school. Let them know that it is a common thing that happens to many children (so if it happens to them, they are not alone), and that adults are working hard to make sure it stops.
- Let them know that they can always talk to you if they are being bullied, you will never judge them, and you will try to help them make the bullying stop.
- Periodically, ask your children if anyone is bothering them at school (or online) or if they feel they are being bullied by anyone
- Notice signs that may indicate your child is being bullied such as a drop in grades, not wanting to go to school, feeling sick more that usual, seeming unusually sad or depressed, loss of appetite, not wanting to hang out with friends anymore, or not being interested in things they once enjoyed. If you notice these signs talk to your child to see how you can help. If nothing changes or if you are still concerned, talk to your child’s school and doctor to see how they can help.
- Let your children/students know that kids who bully need help too. They feel a loss of control in their own lives, so they try to control others through bullying. It probably means that inside they are hurt about something too.
- Tell your child/students that it is not their fault if they get bullied and it does not mean anything is wrong with them. The bully is the one who needs help to change, not them.
- Tell your child/students that children who bully want to see their victims get upset. If they get a child upset, they will often continue bullying because they got what they wanted. Also tell your child, that children who bully, like to control others emotions and actions by scaring them or making them feel bad about themselves. Tell your child not to let his emotions or actions be controlled by the mean actions of someone else.
- Teach your children/students (and show through your own behavior) how to be nice to others and how to treat others with respect
- Notice and praise children who are kind and helpful to others
- Make it clear in your home and school that bullying and being mean to others is not acceptable
- Let your children and students know that they have certain expectations they must follow in order to earn fun privileges. Being kind to others is one of those expectations.
- Teach about tolerance and accepting differences. Share stories about unique people. Talk about how their differences make them special. Have your child/students think of someone they know who is different or unique and say good things about that person
- Find out you school’s bullying policy and what you are supposed to if you see or find out about bullying. Make sure you follow it.
- If you are a parent, find out exactly how your child’s school handles bullying, and make sure you are click here with the policy, and that the policy is followed if your child gets bullied
- Let your child know that they are not alone because you are always there for them
- If your child/student is bullying others let him know it is not acceptable, tell him exactly what changes you expect to see, and only let him participate in fun privileges if he can be respectful and kind to others. Ask him them if anything is bothering him and how you can help. For parents, keep in contact with your child’s school for updates on his behavior. Get counseling for your child if he continues to bully or if you have concerns about your child that you feel you can’t handle on your own. For teachers, let the guidance counselor and administrator know if a child is bullying.
Here are somethings to teach kids so they can help make bullying stop:
- Walk away from the child who is bullying
- Be assertive and say “I don’t like what you are doing. Leave me alone” in a calm but firm tone. Then walk away.
Change the subject on the child who is bullying – Here is an example:
Kid 1: You are so dumb and no one likes you
Kid 2: I wonder what we are doing in gym today
- Smile and shrug your shoulders when someone makes a mean comment to you
- Seek out friendly children to build friendships with
- Try to stay in groups of two or more so you are not alone if a bully approaches you (If you are worried that your child is alone at school and not making friends, talk to the administrators and guidance counselor to see if your child can be paired with a buddy who may also be having trouble making friends)
- To prevent bullying on the internet, make any social media profiles private and only accept connections with people you know and trust. If anyone starts bullying you, delete and block that person from your connections and tell an adult. Do not respond to the person bullying you online. If you are being bullied online through other people’s social media profiles, immediately tell an adult
- If your child/students ever feel like they need help from an adult (for example, if they are scared or if the bullying is not stopping) let them know it is okay to tell someone what is happening.
Children are often scared to tell someone that they are about being bullied because they think it will make it worse if the bully finds out. The adult does not have to tell the bully that the child told on them. There are ways to address the bully without mentioning the victim. For example, tell the bully that teachers, parents, or kids have seen the behavior. Don’t mention anyone specific.
Let your children/students know that they can help stop bullying and that it is admirable to try and do so. Here suggestions you can give to kids to help others:
- Get the child away from the bully by Inviting him to join you. For example, if Johnny is being picked on and called names, walk over to him and say “Hey, do you want to come play tag with me”
- Tell the child being bullied that their teacher is looking for them (making up a reason for them to escape)
- Make statements to get the bully to stop. Examples include: “a teacher is coming”; “stop, you’re going to get in trouble”; “Why are we standing around watching this? Let’s go!”; “you’re being mean.”
- Never join in any bullying
- Do not stand around watching bullying
- If you know a child is being bullied, ask them how they are doing and remind them that it is not their fault
- If you see bullying on someone’s Facebook page or other social media page, leave a message that comments like that are not okay
- Tell an adult if they see someone or know someone is being bullied. This is not considered tattling because you are trying to keep someone safe