If your child is being bullied, it is important to address it right away. Start by listening and empathizing with what they are going through. Then, brainstorm ideas on how to best address the situation. Of course, reporting bullying that occurs at school is always the best option, but you want to be sure your child is on board with that decision.
The key is to empower your child to take an active role in addressing the situation rather than swooping in and trying to fix everything. Remember, bullying makes a child feel powerless. So, any way you can restore a sense of power and self-confidence will go a long way in healing the effects of bullying.
There Are Many Reasons for Bullying
Bullying involves having power over someone. As a result, many kids who bully crave power. In other words, the bully is looking to improve their status. Meanwhile, other kids participate in bullying because they view it as an effective method for controlling and manipulating the social hierarchy at school.
It Can Happen to Anyone
It’s also wrong to assume that some kids are bullied because they did something to cause the bullying or have a victim personality. When this idea is embraced, it removes the blame from the bully and places it on the victim. The responsibility for bullying always falls on the kids doing the bullying. They are the only ones with a choice in the matter. Likewise, labeling kids who are bullied lets the bully off the hook and implies the victim deserves to be victimized.
It Can Happen at Any Age
It really doesn’t matter what age a person is; bullies target anyone who doesn’t fit the accepted norm and focus on that. They also will bully others they feel threatened by or those who have something they want. People also are bullied because they look, act, talk, or dress differently.
There Are 6 Types of Bullying
When most people picture bullying, they imagine a group of kids punching and kicking another kid. But physical bullying is not the only type of bullying. There are, in fact, six different types of bullying:
- Physical bullying
- Verbal bullying
- Relational aggression
- Prejudicial bullying
- Sexual bullying
Knowing how to spot all types of bullying helps parents and educators respond more effectively to bullying situations. For instance, be sure you can recognize relational aggression and cyberbullying as easily as you can spot physical bullying
There Are Gendered Differences
When it comes to bullying, different genders tend to bully differently. For instance, girl bullies tend to be “mean girls” who use relational aggression and cyberbullying to control and manipulate situations. Girls also resort to more name-calling and tend to bully only other girls.
Boys, on the other hand, tend to be more physically aggressive. This is not to say that they don’t call others names and cyberbully, but when it comes down to it, boys tend to punch and hit much more than girl bullies. Additionally, boys will bully any gender. They also tend to be more impulsive, menacing, and enjoy the status they get from a fight.
The reasons for remaining silent vary from person to person. But some tweens and teens are embarrassed, confused, or feel they can handle it independently.
Some young people also question whether or not telling will do any good. Unfortunately, some adults and school systems have established a pattern of not addressing bullying, and young people feel that telling will not change the situation.
Bystanders Are Often Present
Frequently, when bullying occurs, other kids are present. Yet, the common reaction for these bystanders is to stand by and do nothing. For this reason, bullying prevention efforts should include ideas on how to empower bystanders to take action. Included in those programs should be ideas on what bystanders can do if they witness bullying.
Often, kids remain silent because they are unsure of what they should do or feel it is none of their business. But the goal in bullying prevention is to capitalize on the audience a bully has and turn it toward helping the victim rather than silently supporting bullies.
It Has Serious Consequences
Being targeted by a bully can have significant consequences. In fact, many victims feel alone, isolated, and humiliated. And if bullying is left unaddressed, other issues can crop up, including depression and other mental health conditions, low self-esteem, and academic problems.5
For this reason, parents and teachers must realize that bullying is not a rite of passage and it won’t make victims stronger. Instead, it has lasting consequences and should be dealt with swiftly and effectively.