What You Should Know About Bullying
By Jessa McClure
By Jessa McClure
While the beginning of the school year can be an exciting time for many students who are looking forward to seeing friends and participating in their favorite extracurricular activities, others see the school year as another opportunity to be teased and tormented.
These are the kids who have experienced bullying at the hands of their peers. While these children often feel singled out, they are actually not alone in their struggles. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 20 percent of students in grades nine through 12 have experienced bullying.
In order to stop this disturbing trend, parents need to know what signs to look for and what to do if they suspect their child is being bullied.
1. Know what is considered bullying
While we might think of bullying as being shoved in the hallway or made fun of in the lunchroom, the definition of bullying is much broader.
According to stopbullying.org, bullying is any "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."
There are three types of bullying: verbal, social and physical. For a more complete list of what constitutes these different types of bullying, visit stopbullying.org
2. Know if your child is at risk for being bullied
Sometimes it is unclear why one child is bullied over another, but there are some general risk factors that could put your child at risk of being the victim of bullying.
These factors could include: being perceived as different or "uncool" because of appearance, social status or sexual orientation, being seen as weak or defenseless, appearing to be depressed, anxious or having low self-esteem, or being perceived as annoying or antagonistic.
3. Know if your child is at risk for being a bully
Although no parent would expect their child to be a bully, there are certain risk factors that could potentially create the perfect environment for becoming a bully.
These factors could include: being overly concerned with popularity, easily frustrated, having limited parental involvement, having a tumultuous home life, difficulty submitting to authority, viewing violent acts as funny or entertaining, or being a part of a group who bullies others.
4. Know the signs of bullying
Unfortunately, children don't always tell their parents if they are being bullied because they fear repercussions from the bully. They don't want to be seen as a tattletale or they want to handle the situation on their own.
That is why is it important to know what signs to look for. Signs could include: unexplained injuries, frequent instances of faking illness, changes in eating habits, difficulty sleeping, sudden changes in social situations or talking about harming themselves.
5. Know how to support the bullied child
If you suspect that your child is the victim of bullying, it is important to sit down with them, in an environment where he or she feels comfortable, and listen to what they have to say. Stopbullying.org recommends telling the child the bullying is not their fault and encouraging them to talk about it. Work together to come up with a plan with your child and school personnel that will allow your child to feel safe enough to focus on learning once more.
Never tell the bullying victim that they should ignore the bullying or suggest fighting them back in a physical way. Parents should also avoid engaging the bully or their parents themselves. Always go through a mediator or school official.
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