Have you ever been concerned your child was a victim of bullying? Bullying is a major issue for today’s youth, but the term “bully” is difficult to define. According to the stopbullying.gov website, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.”
Perhaps the reason the term is so difficult to define is the fact that bullies come in all shapes and sizes and bully in a variety of ways. There are at least three types of bullying prevalent today:
1. Physical bullying – using force or action to demean someone (e.g., hitting, kicking, pushing, stealing)
2. Verbal bullying – using words to demean someone (e.g., name calling, teasing, insulting)
3. Cyberbullying – using technology to demean someone (e.g., bullying through texting, e-mail, Facebook)
Today children are not only bullied in school or on the playground, many are also bullied at home through various technological outlets. As bullying becomes increasingly more pervasive through technology, the harmful effects seem magnified. Almost weekly, the news highlights a story of a child withdrawing from school and family, seeking counseling, and in extreme cases, taking his/her own life as the result of being bullied. Oftentimes, the parents of these children were unaware their child was a victim of bullying.
To avoid finding yourself in a similar position, be mindful of the following signs that your child is being bullied: unexplained injuries, loss of or destruction of clothing or personal belongings, frequent illnesses, changes in eating habits, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in school, decreased self-esteem and/or self-destructive behaviors, such as running away or talking about harming themselves.
If you recognize a bullying situation, take action immediately. First, talk with your child; let them know you are there to support them and that it is not his/her fault. Then address the bullying behavior and take the necessary steps to resolve the situation, from developing a plan to deal with the bully to getting your child additional support if necessary. It is important to be aware that bullying affects everyone involved, including the bully, victim and bystanders.
The staff at Fall Creek Elementary takes a proactive approach. “We teach our students to treat each other with kindness and respect,” says Principal Amy Jackson. “We teach them to look for the good in others and to value each other’s differences.”
“Students also know that it is a powerful thing to speak out. Students can use their words to stand up for themselves and to tell a teacher or other adult at school in order to help them or others stay safe.” Together we can all make a difference by taking the time to watch and listen to our children and taking action. For more information on bullying, visit stopbullying.gov.