Stop the bullying!
Bullying is more common than we want to believe.
Currently, one in four children report being bullied, and one in five children admit to bullying someone. Eighty-five percent of bullying occurs in front of others (bystanders) with an increase in cyberbullying of 24 percent of Middle School students and 15.5 percent of High School students.
Research also shows that vulnerable children are bullied more often to include; LGBT students, children of color, children with weight issues and children with disabilities or special education needs.
Four types of bullying:
–Social Bullying: Using the peer group to bully. Spreading rumors, purposefully excluding, encouraging others to bully, and intentionally doing something to damage someone’s reputation.
–Verbal Bullying: Name calling, teasing, put-downs, insults, and threats.
–Physical Bullying: Aggressive action towards someone’s body.
–Cyber-bullying: Bullying that occurs on-line. This can occur via text message, on social media, and during gaming activities. It can also include sending, requesting and sharing sexual, or otherwise inappropriate pictures or videos.
What can I do? How can I help my child? One of the most powerful things you can do is use active listening. Paraphrasing is a great tool used in active listening. Don't make it about you or try to solve the problem for them. They need to use their own problem-solving skills and you need to listen. Also, don't dismiss or minimize their feelings. This isn't a small issue for your child. And, lastly, don't give advice and encourage your child to ignore the situation. That invalidates their feelings. Your job is to help them find a solution that works for them.
Using these skills will invite your child to share enough so that you can determine how serious the situation is. Most of the time, your child will feel better after you listen to them. However, seek support or guidance from a mental health professional if your child tells you they are considering hurting themselves or expressing suicidal intent. If they resist going to school, speak with the school counselor.
What can I do if I’m concerned that my child is bullying others?
–Talk With Your Child: Inform them that others are concerned about their aggressive behavior, their behavior needs to change because bullying (in all forms) hurts others, discuss the different types of bullying;
–Express Support: Tell them that you love them, and you will help them;
–Help Them Feel Good About Themselves: This can range from developing hobbies and skills, learning and practicing coping skills, alternatives to bullying, and many other things.
As parents, we do our best to raise our children to be kind to others, remembering the "Golden Rule" - to treat others how we'd like to be treated. Sometimes, our efforts can't always stop bullying from happening but we can teach our children, to the best of our abilities, to be good to each other. Below are some ideas for preventing bullying:
–Help youth help each other. Since most bullying happens in Middle School, and most bullying occurs in front of others, peers can have a strong positive impact.
–Help youth support the person who is experiencing bullying by expressing empathy, offering to spend time with them, distracting them, encouraging, and helping them get support.
–Help empower youth to identify statements they believe can help them stand-up to bullying. Examples could be; “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect,” “I’ll feel better if I do something,” “I value equality,” “If I don’t do something it could get worse,” and “I feel really bad just watching this.”
–Teach about appreciating differences. Most students get bullied about perceived differences. Begin early talking about the things that everyone has in common and how differences can be valued because they make us unique.
–Talk about Internet safety and on-line etiquette beginning in grade-school.
–Teach Empathy. Help your child learn about empathy throughout their childhood.
For media inquiries, contact Ashley Stanford Cone.
(Thank you to Sally Blackwood, of CARES Northwest, for contributing to this article.)