If you're like most people, you had to deal with a
bully at some time during your childhood. Memories of that experience may still
be as vivid as though it all happened yesterday. One in ten school children is
regularly harassed or attacked by bullies. The experience is often dismissed as
just a part of childhood.
Bullying behavior may seem rather insignificant
compared to kids bringing guns to school and getting involved with drugs.
Bullying is often dismissed as part of growing up. But it's actually an early
form of aggressive, violent behavior. Statistics show that one in four children
who bully will have a criminal record before the age of 30.
cause serious problems that schools, families, and neighbors ignore. Teasing at
bus stops, taking another child's lunch money insults and threats, kicking or
shoving is all fair game to a bully.
Some bullies are outgoing, aggressive, active,
and expressive. They get their way by brute force or openly harassing someone.
This type of bully rejects rules and regulations and needs to rebel to achieve a
feeling of superiority and security. Other bullies are more reserved and
manipulative and may not want to be recognized as harassers or tormentors. They
try to control by smooth-talking, saying the "right" thing at the
"right" time, and lying. This type of bully gets his or her power
discreetly through cunning, manipulation, and deception.
As different as these two types may seem, all
bullies have some characteristics in common:
- they are concerned with their own pleasure
- they want power over others
- they are willing to use and abuse other people
to get what they want
- they feel pain inside, perhaps because of
their own shortcomings
- they find it difficult to see things from
someone else's perspective
Bullied children lose
self-esteem. They feel alone. Their grades may suffer. Fears and anxieties about
bullies can cause some children to avoid school, carry a weapon for protection,
or even commit more violent activity, even "good" children may turn to
violence to protect themselves or to seek revenge.
Although anyone can be the target of bullying
behavior, the victim is often singled out because of his or her psychological
traits more than his or her physical traits. A typical victim is likely to be
shy, sensitive, and perhaps anxious or insecure. Some children are picked on for
physical reasons such as being overweight or physically small, having a
disability, or belonging to a different race or religious faith.
can we do to stop bullying?
There's a great deal you as a parent can do:
Provide opportunities for
children to talk about bullying, perhaps when watching TV together, reading
aloud, playing a game, or going to the park or a movie.
Watch for symptoms that
your child may be a bullying victim, such as withdrawal, a drop in grades, torn
clothes, unexplained bruises, not wanting to go to school, needing extra money
or supplies, taking toys or other possessions to school and regularly
Take your child's complaints of bullying
seriously. Children are often
afraid or ashamed to tell anyone that they have been bullied, so believe your
Tell the school or
organization immediately if you think that your child is being bullied. Alerted
caaregivers can carefully monitor your children's actions and take other steps
to ensure your child's safety.
Work with other parents to
ensure that the children in your neighborhood are supervised closely on their
way to and from school.
your child to talk about school, social events, the walk or ride to and from
school. Listen to his or her conversations with other children. This
could be your first clue to whether your child is a victim, a bully, or neither.
Don't bully your children yourself,
physically or verbally. Use nonphysical,
consistently enforced discipline measures as opposed to ridiculing, yelling at,
or ignoring your children when they misbehave
Teach children ways
to resolve arguments without violent words or actions. Teach children
self-protection skills -- how to walk confidently, stay alert to what's going on
around them, and to stand up for themselves verbally.
Help children learn the
social skills they need to make friends. A confident, resourceful child who has
friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others.
child's kindness toward others. Let your child know that kindness is valued.
bullies may be acting out feelings of insecurity, anger, or loneliness. If your
child is a bully, help get to the root of the problem. Seek out specific
strategies you can use at home from a teacher, school counselor, or child