Last April I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed on Thrive Global Network in response to a death of Nate Wombles
Unfortunately many children and even adults are involved in the bullying cycle.
Many parents feel stuck if their child is involved in a bullying situation. How do you teach your child to respond without egging on the child who bullies?
What is Bullying, and What do I do about it?
Bullying is aggressive, threatening behavior by one child or adult towards another child/adult. The whole goal of the bully is to gain power or control over a person who they perceive is weaker than them.
Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical or through technology, called “Cyberbullying.”
Bullying can occur either by one person or groups. Groups of bullies may also be called gangs.
Bullying is not just for kids, bullying can occur at any age, even into adulthood.
There are different roles students play in a bullying situation.
The person doing the bullying
The person being bullied
Someone who is both bullied and being a bully towards others.
Those who defend or stand up for the person being bullied.
Those who assist the bully.
Those who reinforce the bully by becoming bystanders.
A person can both be the victim of bullying and also bully others at the same time.
What are signs a child is being bullied?
Signs a child may be a bullying victim are:
Unexplained bruises, scrapes or marks
Changes in behavior such as eating habits, nightmares, stomach aches, making excuses to not go to school, ride the bus.
Unexplained damage or loss of belongings
Child coming home hungry
Changes in grades
Child becomes sad, anxious, angry, or depressed
Child beginds withdrawing from others
Stops hanging around friends
Sources: http://www.stopbullying.gov/, “Bullies are a pain in the brain”, and www.Safechild.net
What do I do if I think my child is being bullied?
What parents can do if a child is being bullied:
- Address the situation immediately.
- If you’re not sure communicate with your child by stating the changes you’ve noticed and asking what happened. http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It
- Role play ways to respond to the bully with your child.
- Listen to your child when they want to talk about it.
- Don’t encourage the child to ignore it or fight back
- Encourage confidence and assertive communication
- Talk to your child about who to tell if they are being bullied, create a safety plan with your child.
- If the school is involved, allow school officials to address the other parents rather than calling them yourself
- Seek counseling for your child if he or she is in distress (anxious, depressed, withdrawing, etc…)
What your child can co if he or she is being bullied.
The main thing to teach your child about preventing bullying is how to show confidence.
- Don’t cry, and stay calm (crying gives them satisfaction)
- Stay away from groups of bullies/gangs
- Tell an adult if they see weapons, are being teased/bullied, you can help your child make a list of people they can go to
- Go a different way than the bullies if having to walk home or go to a different part of the playground
- Spend time with other friends
- Run away from the situation if they are after them, preferably to an adult he or she trusts.
- Tell their friends, friends can even help stand up for them.
- Stick up for him or her self by using a confident voice “I don’t like….”
- Practice what to say
- Remember the bully wants power, it is more about their need for power than about you
- If a child is alone and the bully wants their stuff, teach them to give it to them and leave the situation.
Some don’ts when dealing with bullies (Romain)
- Don’t cry
- Stay calm
- Don’t ignore
- Don’t taunt the bully.
- Don’t beg the bully not to hurt you.
- Don’t believe the names they call you are think negative about yourself
- Name call back or agree with them
- Try to fight back
What can bystanders do to help bullying?
“Research shows that bystanders intervene only 20% of the time, but when they do, bullying stops about 50% of the time,” Bazelon said.
Even the smallest act of intervention can work wonders, she added. “Bystanders can help in many ways, simply by standing with the victim or touching their shoulder during an incident, or even by sending a supportive text or calling them on the phone afterward.” http://info.character.org/blog/bid/177221/Be-More-Than-a-Bystander-Speak-Up-Against-Bullying-and-Violence
- Stand up for the person being bullied
- Don’t give bullying an audience
- Help the child being bullied get away without getting yourself in harms way.
- Tell a trusted adult
- Be friends
What teachers and schools and organizations can do if bullying is occurring:
First get the facts from multiple sources.
- Listen to those involve without judgement or labeling
- Separate children involved
- Make sure person doing bullying knows what the problem is
- Identify reasons child may have bullied
- Have clear consequences:
- have class discussion, role play situations
- Attempt to help children make amends
- stopbullying.gov has several tips on involving person doing bullying in consequences , including apology letters, doing good deeds, and what to stay away from
- Provide opportunites for bullying education
Signs your child is bullying other children:
- Gets into frequent arguments or fights with others
- Is angry
- Blames others for their problems
- Unexplained new belongings or money
- Frequent trips to the principle’s office at school.
There is a quiz at the end of Bullies are a Pain in the Brain to screen if your child is bullying others.
What to do if your child is bullying others?
- Don’t get defensive, take responsibility for your child.
- Talk to your child to tell you what happened and listen to their side.
- Try to find out the issue your child is dealing with that led to the bullying behavior.
- Set limits.
- Apply consequences to the behavior
- Provide alternatives to aggressive behavior.
- Ask your child how you can help.
- Seek professional help for your child if necessary to deal with the source of the issue.
Why do people bully others? According to stompoutbullying.org
- Power and Control is the main issue surrounding bullying behavior
- Sometimes someone else is also bullying the child
- Child may be having difficulties at home or have experienced abuse, neglect or witnessed aggressive behavior themselves
- To avoid getting bullied
- For social power
- Some plan their bullying and are liked by others but not their victims
Why don’t kids tell?
stopbullying.gov reported on the Indicators of School Crime and safety that bullying is reported to adults less than 40% of the time
- Feeling helpless
- Fear or intimidation by others
- Not wanting to be seen as a tattletale
- Feelings of isolation and withdrawal
What are the risk factors for being bullied?
It’s important to note that while these are risk factors, not all children with these characteristics are bullied.
- Seen as quiet or different by other children
- Difficulty speaking up for themselves
- Difficulty with peer relationships
- Are anxious, depressed or low self esteeme
What are the risk factors for bullying?
There are two types of those who bully defined by stopbullying.gov
Those whose goals are concerned with popularity, power, control.
Those who are more isolated, have low self esteem, less involved in school, less social involvement with peers.
Other risk factors include:
- Are aggressive
- More difficulties at home
- View violence as a way to handle their problems
- Less involvement from parents,
- Negative view of others
- Difficulty following rules
- Have friends who bully
What are the long term consequences of bullying?
- A NY Times article summaries a study by the JAMA network on psychiatry that found long term consequences of childhood bullying into young adulthood.
- Young adults were interviewed/assessed on which role they played in the bullying scenario and placed into different groups
- Outcomes included increased anxiety and panic for those who were victims, increased panic for those who were both bullies and victims and increased instance of adult antisocial behavior for those who were bullies but not victims.
“A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.” www.stopbullying.org
Resources and links
“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” written and illustrated by Trevor Romain
“Cyber Bullying Not More” by Holli Kenley, MA