How To Help Your Child With Bullying You Big Bad Wolf

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Kayla, 13, thought things were going well at her new school, since all the popular girls were being so nice to her. But then she found out that one of them had posted mean rumors about her on a website. Kayla cried herself to sleep that night and started going to the nurse’s office complaining of a stomachache to avoid the girls in study hall.

Unfortunately, the kind of bullying that Seth and Kayla experienced is widespread. In national surveys, most kids and teens say that bullying happens at school. A bully can turn something like going to the bus stop or recess into a nightmare for kids. Bullying can leave deep emotional scars that last for life. And in extreme situations, it can culminate in violent threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt.

It’s important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids have to “tough out.” The effects can be serious and affect kids’ sense of self-worth and future relationships. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as school shootings.[1]

What is Bullying?[2]

Dan Olweus, creator of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, provides us with this commonly accepted definition for bullying in his book, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do:

“A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.” 2

This definition includes three important components:

1. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions.
2. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time.
3. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength.

Types of Bullying

Bullying can take on many forms. As part of the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire, students are asked if they have been bullied in any of these nine ways:

1. Verbal bullying including derogatory comments and bad names
2. Bullying through social exclusion or isolation
3. Physical bullying such as hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting
4. Bullying through lies and false rumors
5. Having money or other things taken or damaged by students who bully
6. Being threatened or being forced to do things by students who bully
7. Racial bullying
8. Sexual bullying
9. Cyber bullying (via cell phone or Internet)

  • Emotional bullying occurs when rumors are started about someone or a group of individuals. It also happens when malicious or defamatory statements are made about a person or group with the intent to hurt the feelings and emotional stability of the target. Emotional bullying can occur in various forms including face-to-face, behind one’s back or anonymously via the Internet and social networking sites.

  • Physical bullying is the most traditional form of bullying and occurs when the victim is injured physically with pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, burning, etc. It also occurs when the bully steals the victim’s personal belongings, destroys personal belongings, clothes, etc.

  • Cyber bullyingcan occur in the form of emotional bullying, but takes place online via email, social networking sites, blogs and more. Often times cyber bullying is done anonymously and may include the victim becoming ganged up on in a series of bashing and hurtful statements. Many of these rumors and offenses are lies or extensions of the truth but are targeted at the victim because of jealously or the intent to hurt.

Why Students Bully

Information about bullying suggests that there are three interrelated reasons why students bully.

1. Students who bully have strong needs for power and (negative) dominance.
2. Students who bully find satisfaction in causing injury and suffering to other students.
3. Students who bully are often rewarded in some way for their behavior with material or psychological rewards.

Impact of Bullying

A single student who bullies can have a wide-ranging impact on the students they bully, students who observe bullying, and the overall climate of the school and community.

Students Who are Bullied – Students deserve to feel safe at school. But when they experience bullying, these types of effects can last long into their future:

  • Depression

  • Low self-esteem

  • Health problems

  • Poor grades

  • Suicidal thoughts

Students Who Bully Others – Students who intentionally bully others should be held accountable for their actions. Those who bully their peers are also more likely than those students who do not bully others to:

  • Get into frequent fights

  • Steal and vandalize property

  • Drink alcohol and smoke

  • Report poor grades

  • Perceive a negative climate at school

  • Carry a weapon

Bullying is a Serious Issue

Nearly one in five students in an average classroom is experiencing bullying in some way. The rest of the students, called bystanders, are also affected by the bullying.1

Sixteen young people are murdered on average each day in the United States. Homicide is the second leading cause of death of young people between the ages of 10 and 24, only trailing unintentional accidents. That’s more lives lost than from cancer, HIV, heart disease and suicide combined.


  • 1 out of 4 kids is Bullied. The American Justice Department says that this month 1 out of every 4 kids will be abused by another youth.

  • Surveys Show That 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally, & physically.

  • In a recent study, 77% of the students said they had been bullied. And 14% of those who were bullied said they experienced severe (bad) reactions to the abuse.

  • 1 out of 5 kids admits to being a bully, or doing some “Bullying.”

  • 8% of students miss 1 day of class per month for fear of Bullies.

  • 43% fear harassment in the bathroom at school.

  • 100,000 students carry a gun to school.

  • 28% of youths who carry weapons have witnessed violence at home.

  • A poll of teens ages 12-17 proved that they think violence increased at their schools.

  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.

  • More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school.

  • Playground statistics – Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. Adult intervention – 4%. Peer intervention – 11%. No intervention – 85%.

Tips for dealing with bullying, or a bully

It can be difficult to deal with bullying, or a bully. It is more helpful when a bully’s parents and school are involved as well, working to help diffuse the situation. If you are concerned that your child is the victim of bullying, here are six steps you can take to try and help him or her in dealing with bullying:

  1. Get your child’s input: You need to be a safe place your child can turn for help when dealing with bullying. Be open to your child, and make sure that you are accepting. You should let your child know that being bullied is not his or her fault. Also, you should find out what has been tried to stop the bullying, and what has worked (or hasn’t worked) so far.

  2. Talk to the school authorities: Discuss the problem with your child’s teacher, principal or counselor. A meeting with all three can help everyone know how to help a child who is dealing with bullying. In many cases, bullying takes place in unsupervised areas, such as school buses, bathrooms, playgrounds and other areas that can be hard to monitor. If you know where the bullying is taking place, you can let school authorities know so that they can step up “patrols” in those areas to discourage bullying.

  3. Teach your child to avoid the bully: Your child does not need to fight back. Encourage him or her to avoid the bully when possible. Suggest that he or she walk away, and go find a teacher or other trusted adult.

  4. Encourage your child to be assertive: It is not necessary to fight back to defeat a bully. You can teach your child to stand up straight and tell the bully, firmly, to leave him or her alone. In some cases, this type of assertiveness will work.

  5. Practice with your child: It might be beneficial to have a little bit of role play with your child. This way he or she can practice what to say to a bully, or how to leave a situation that could turn into bullying.

  6. Teach your child to move in groups: A good support system can be an effective deterrent against bullies. Have your child go to school and other places with trusted and true friends when dealing with bullying.

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