Studies show that 1 out of 3 students
in grade 6 through 10 are the victim of bullying at school.
What is bullying
Bullying is difficult to define, because in
today's society it extends much further beyond someone taking your
child's lunch money or pushing him or her around on the playground,
and the effects of this type of behavior go much deeper than a black
eye. Teasing, taunting, ethnic slurs and sexual harassment are all
forms of bullying. Bullying behavior is generally repetitive hostility
and aggression directed toward a victim who is physically or mentally
weaker than the bully. This can come in various forms:
Physical bullying --
This is perhaps the most obvious form of intimidation. It can be
anything from intentionally bumping into another child in the hall
to hitting or threatening with a weapon.
Verbal bullying --
This can include name-calling, spreading rumors and persistent
teasing. Girls typically bully and are bullied this way.
intimidation -- A bully may deliberately
exclude a child from a group activity like a class party. The
bully may also make other kids turn against a child by not letting
that child play with them. Emotional intimidation is closely
connected to physical and verbal bullying.
Racist bullying --
Racial slurs, spray painting graffiti, mocking the victim's
cultural traditions and making offensive gestures are all examples
of racist bullying.
-- This form or bullying is characterized by unwanted physical
contact or abusive comments.
Why are some
Just like their victims, bullies often have low
self-esteem. They pick on kids who are weaker than they are to feel
more important or powerful. This behavior is a way of dealing with
their own problems, like a difficult situation at home. Some bullies
have been victims of abuse themselves.
How can I tell if
my child is a victim of bullying?
Ideally, a child will tell an authority figure if
he or she is in danger, but some children may be embarrassed or feel
weak by admitting to being the victim of a bully. Also, the effects of
bullying aren't always as obvious as a black eye.
Some signs to look for include:
Avoiding school --
A child may suddenly invent mysterious illnesses or stomachaches
to avoid going to school.
-- A child may react to being bullied in a number of ways. Some
children become withdrawn or moody, while others become overly
aggressive or violent.
Showing pain --
Bruises and scratches may be a sign a child has been bullied, but
these can be common in active youngsters. Parents and caregivers
should pay close attention to a pattern of bruises that the child
-- If a child starts mysteriously misplacing his or her favorite
toys, he or she could be the victim of a bullying. Bullies will
sometimes intimidate their victims into handing over their
My child is being
bullied at school.
What can I do to help?
First of all, do not overreact. It's
understandable to be upset, but try not to let your child see that,
because he or she might interpret it as you being upset with him or
her. Listen to and assure your child that he or she did the right
thing by telling you about the incident.
Next, talk to your child about how to handle
future confrontations with the bully. Tell him or her that getting
angry won't solve the problem because it gives the bully exactly what
he or she wants. Walking away and ignoring the bully will give the
message that the child doesn't care, and sooner or later he or she
will find someone else to bother. If the bully is physically harming
your child, he or she should inform a teacher or find a group of
friends to provide comfort and support.
If the situation seems serious, you should work
with the school to establish a plan to protect your child from future
bullying incidents. You should not confront the parents of the child
who bullies. Finally, encourage your child to continue talking with
you about all bullying incidents.
For more, see:
How can I prevent
my child from being bullied?
Bullies often target socially awkward children,
so you should encourage your child to develop more friendships.
Suggest your child join social organizations, clubs or teams. Being in
a group can sometimes keep a child from being victimized. Keeping
money or expensive toys at home can help your child avoid becoming a
target, because bullies often want things that other kids have and
will use force to take them. You can also work with your child's
school to establish bullying prevention programs and policies.
What can I do to
help if my child is a bully?
If you learn that your child is a bully, try to
stay calm. Have your child tell you exactly what he or she has been
doing. Ask why he or she bullies and what might help him or her to
stop. Bullying often stems from unhappiness or insecurity, so try to
find out if something is wrong. Also, try to control your aggression
and the behavior of your other children.
If an older brother or sister behaves
aggressively inside the home, it's likely to damage the other child's
self-esteem and make him or her more likely to do the same thing. Help
your child to find nonviolent ways of reacting to certain situations
and always praise him or her for good behavior. You might also find it
helpful to talk to a professional who can help your child change his
or her behavior.
Boys and Girls
National Hotline -
Call With any Problem, Anytime
1-800-448-3000 (TDD 1-800-448-1833)
Open 24 hours a day, everyday