Has your child been bullied or is your child a bully? There are many warning signs and preventative measures you need to be educated on in order to help your child in both scenarios.
Bullying is still a growing problem nationwide. Although we are implementing and enforcing laws against bullying, we still hear on the news horrific stories about shootings, suicides, and peer abuse. Approximately 77 percent of students in the United States report incidents of bullying at their schools.
- Cyber– Through social media, text messaging, gossip, emails, and inappropriate photos, Facebook and other social media sites are becoming large outlets for bullying. This type of bullying has increased tremendously because it is harder to detect.
- Verbal– A child may report being called horrible names, racist comments, homophobic jokes, or being sexually harassed.
- Physical– Some kids bully by being physical, such as: Hitting, spitting, kicking, and physically attacking through weapons, guns, or physical force. These types of bullies are also known to destroy property or steal.
- Indirect– Some bullies will spread gossip or rumors that are not factual and is made up to embarrass another child or teen. Often times this is also considered to be emotional abuse as the child or teen becomes isolated because of the gossip/rumors.
According to bullying statistics in 2013 in the United States, we are still seeing, even with multiple anti-bullying programs mandated in our schools, that:
- 1 in 5 students admitted to bullying their peers at some point.
- About half of students reported being afraid of going to the bathroom for risk of being bullied there.
- Teenagers aged 12-17 claimed they have seen violence increase in their school in the past year.
- In approximately 85 percent of bullying cases, no intervention was made by a teacher or administrator.
- 30 percent of U.S. teenagers have been involved in bullying by either being a bully or a victim.
Cyberbullying advice for parents:
As a parent, it is important to tell your teen that they will not be punished for admitting to being bullied. If the bullying continues after the child has blocked the person on the Internet and their phone, a parent may want to contact the other parent whose child is cyber bulling their own child and have a discussion in order to stop the harassment. Educate your child or teen to keep all threatening or cruel messages and bullying evidence as proof to support their case. Remind your children about predators and how not everyone may be who they say they are online. Make sure you know where your child is at all times, so that a predator cannot hurt your child. Tell your child to have caution when sending messages or pictures through the internet or text because there is a risk that it could “go viral.” Have a code word, for example: a pet’s name, if your child is in danger so that you know how to find them and come and get them.
Cyberbullying statistics consist of some of the following:
- The i-Safe Foundation reported that 1 in 3 children have experienced cyber-threats online.
- Over 25 percent of students report being “repeatedly” bullied through their cell phone and the Internet.
- About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others.
- Girls are more likely than boys to engage in cyberbullying.
- Only 1 out of 10 victims of cyberbullying tell their parents about the incident.
- 1 out of 4 report the cyberbullying to the police.
Parents are very concerned but may not want to believe or imagine that their child is bullying other students. This is called “Denial” about our own child’s behavior. Children who bully other children, statistically, have been physically, mentally, or verbally abused in their own home or at school.
A bully has a need for power, control, and dominance over another child. Here are some indicators that your child may be a bully:
- He/She comes home with items, toys, money, or materials that may not belong to them.
- Your child may often get in trouble with teachers or administrators.
- May start fights with their own siblings.
- May easily react and become violent with others at or outside of the home.
- Blames others for their problems
- Chooses friends who bully other students.
On the other hand, if your child is bullied, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
- The child may make excuses to avoid going to school or other activities.
- Your child may experience emotional changes, such as, depression, anxiety, anger, sadness.
- Change in appetite due to nerves or anxiety/stress.
- Drop in academic performance
- May want to attend another school
How can a parent help their child when they are being bullied?
Parents need to explain to their child/teen that it is not acceptable to be afraid or hurt by another person. They do not deserve to be picked on in any capacity. This is considered to be a form of abuse or bullying. Parents need to teach their child to be assertive, not aggressive, back to a child who is bullying them. It’s important to tell the child or teen to report any incident of bullying immediately to a counselor, teacher, administrator, friend, or parent. It is critical that you may need to seek counseling for your child and family.
If you’d like to share a story or comment about your child’s experience with bullying, and how you helped your child, please write to my Dear Linda column at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write on Facebook.