Parent Guide to Bullying
Bullying is a widespread problem in some schools and communities. The behavior encompasses physical aggression, threats, teasing, and harassment.
- Although it can lead to violence, bullying typically is not categorized with more serious forms of school violence involving weapons, vandalism or physical harm.
- ·It is however, an unacceptable anti-social behavior that is learned through influences in the environment, home, school, peer groups, and even the media. As such, it also can be unlearned, or better yet, prevented.
- Bullying is a one-sided event where one person (s) is trying to gain power over another or others.
- This goal of gaining power or dominating another is the driving force behind bullying. It also gives the bully a feel of importance, or to feel pleasure in other people’s emotional or physical pain or discomfort. It can be secretive in that bullies do not want adults to see it. This is the difference between friendly teasing and bullying.
- Bullying is harassment of that person(s) who is/are less able to ward off the negative action. It can involve one person or a group.
- Some adults try to downplay it as horseplay, pecking order, tattling, or boys will be boys.
- Inventing illnesses to avoid going to school
- Missing belongings or money
- Sleep problems
- Poor concentration, problems with schoolwork
- Unexpected changes in routine
- Be a good listener—talking about the problem makes the child feel he/she is not alone; also that they are not at fault
- Teach your child to hold their anger—the bully wants the angry reaction; emphasize the child is not to get physical or bully back
- Tell the child to walk in groups or use the buddy system
- Tell the child to stand tall, act brave, or ignore the bully
- Tell the child to use humor or give the bully a compliment to catch the bully off guard
- Tell the child to report it to an adult they trust
- Talk about it
- Recognize bullying behaviors and report it
- No tolerance policy
- Don’t rationalize, justify, or minimize the behavior
- Don’t be a bystanders
- Teach students assertiveness-conflict resolutions skills, peer mediation, I messages, anger management, character education
- Parents, teachers, students, administrators, and police use team approach to create a bully free zone—communicate bullying problem in school handbooks, counselors hold discussions on it
- Re-channel bully’s power and try to make them a positive leader
Bullying Behaviors can be:
- Physical (hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking etc)
- Verbal (name calling, teasing, threats, harassment)
- Emotional (putdowns, gestures, dirty looks, cold shoulder, exclusion)
- Extortion (intimidation, threats, stealing, blackmail)
Sometimes children who are bullied feel awful and don’t know what to do. Other children may worry about being bullied and might feel unsafe if they see others being bullied. If a child is ever bullied, it is not okay and it is not their fault.
Three rules we use are the following:
- We all have the right to feel safe all of the time
- Others have the right to feel safe with us.
- Nothing is so awful that we can’t talk about it to someone.
WHO ARE THE BULLIES?
Males—most often and more obvious
WHO ARE THE TARGETS?
- Students who have some difference—appearance, language, physical condition, shyness, sensitive or anxious
- Loners—those who have few friends
- Students who are easily aroused emotionally
- Students who lack good social skills or conflict resolution skills and can not dodge the conflict or deal with it
WHO ARE THE BYSTANDERS?
- Students who choose not to get involved
- Students who are happy that the bully is picking on someone else rather than them—don’t want to risk standing up to the bully
- Students who act as a “lieutenant”; don’t initiate the bullying but are a part of it
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE BULLY?
- Target people who are different and exploit those differences
- Choose victims they feel will not retaliate
- Anger—this is a way to deal with other situations at home (divorce, alcohol etc)
- Family background tells them it is a normal behavior—they copy what they know
- Low self esteem
- Lack of friends-lonely
- Want to feel important or “cool”
WHY IS BULLYING SO HARMFUL?
- Damages self esteem of student
- May lead to learned helplessness and behaviors that lead to
- May lead to dangerous retaliations (like school shootings)
- May be the first step toward criminal activity
KINDS OF BULLYING
Physical—gaining dominance over; gains pleasure out of harming others, uses force to get what they want. (includes hitting, biting, slapping, kicking, punching, hair pulling, shoving, gestures, mocking others, damaging one’s property)
Verbal—harm to one’s self esteem. (includes name calling, teasing, gossiping, starting rumors, mean talk, harassing terms, putdowns)
Emotional—more subtle and can involve isolation or exclusion from the group; common among girls (includes cliques, social isolation, embarrassment)
Racist—preys on children’s race or nationality; (includes racial slurs, offensive gestures, joke making)
Cyberspace—emails, instant messaging, chat rooms, text messages on cell phones, Bipods (includes use of computer to harass victims at all hours in wide circles)
Sexual—unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive or inappropriate comments
Research indicates that bullying is more prevalent in males than females, although this difference decreases when considering indirect aggression (verbal threats, exclusion, gossiping).
Bullying is the most common form of violence in our society; between 15% and 30% of students are bullies or victims. Statistics show that one in four children who bully will have a criminal record before the age of 30.
Every day 180,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied.
A recent report from the American Medical Association on a study of over 15,000 sixth-ten graders estimates that approximately 3.7 million youths engage in, and more than 3.2 million are victims of moderate or serious bullying each year. Sixty percent of middle school students reported they had been bullied. Eighty percent of high school students reported they had been bullied.
According to a Kids Health poll in 2004, 86% of more than 1,200 nine-thirteen year old male and females polled said they’ve seen someone else being bullied, 48% said they had been bullied, and 42% admit to bullying other students once in a while.
In a typical school day, 5% of the students do the bullying, 10% are being bullied, and the remaining 85% are bystanders.
Bullying is often a factor in school related deaths. (Columbine, Jonesboro, Red Mound are just some examples of school massacres)
Membership in either bully or victim groups is associated with school drop out, poor academic performance, poor psychological adjustment, low self esteem, depression, criminal activity, and other negative long-term consequences.
The Myth: Bullies suffer from insecurity and low self esteem. They pick on others to make themselves feel more important.
The Research: Most bullies have average or above average self esteem. They have aggressive temperaments, a lack of empathy and poor parenting.
The Myth: Bullies are looking for attention. Ignore them and the bullying will stop.
The Research: Bullies are looking for control/power and rarely stop if their behavior is ignored. The level of bullying usually increases if the bullying is not addressed by adults.
The Myth: Boys will be boys.
The Research: Bullying is seldom outgrown; it is redirected. 60% of all boys identified as bullies will commit at least one crime by the time they are 24
The Myth: Kids can be cruel about differences.
The Research: They play a small role in the bullying situations. Most victims are chosen because they are sensitive, anxious and unable to retaliate.
The Myth: Victims of bullies need to learn to stand up for themselves and deal with the situation.
The Research: Victims are usually younger or smaller than their attackers. They also lack the social skills to develop supportive friendships. They cannot deal with the situation themselves.
The Myth: Large schools or classes are conducive to bullying.
The Research: There is no correlation. In fact, there is some evidence that bullying may be less prevalent in larger schools where potential victims have increased opportunities for finding supportive friends.
The Myth: Most bullying occurs off school grounds.
The Research: Although some occurs on the way home or outside the school, most occurs on school grounds in classrooms, hallways, locker rooms, or playgrounds.
The Myth: Bullying affects only a small number of students.
The Research: 25% of US students are the victims and about 20% are engaged in bullying behaviors. 180,000 students stay home daily because they are afraid of being bullied.
The Myth: Teachers know bullying is a problem in their school.
The Research: Bullying often takes place out of the sight of teachers. Most victims are reluctant to report it for fear of embarrassment or retaliation.
The Myth: Victims of bullying need to follow the adage “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt me”
The Research: Victims of bullying often suffer lifelong problems with self esteem. They are prone to depression, suicide, and other mental health issues.