Some children are more likely to be bullied than others. Those who deal with physical handicaps, learning disabilities, obesity or dress differently may be targeted. But no one is immune. In fact about 60% of children will fall victim to bullying at some point in their school experience. Some will continually be abused by bullies. While in the past it was thought that a child who was bullied would eventually learn to either ignore the situation or would fight back, the reality is that hurtful remarks, physical threats or even being shunned by peers can leave an imprint for life. Today we recognize that children who are victimized can suffer from depression, low self esteem and social withdrawal. Bullying can come in a variety of forms: cyberspace, gossip, shunning, hitting, making fun of, rumors, intimidation and threats to name a few. Both victims and bullies have one thing in common: they are both at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Cyber bullying has drawn more children into the bully mentality because there’s no face to face confrontation. Young people are still developing their sense of self. You may want to require your child to “friend” you on their social sites so you may keep an eye out. However, most teens want their privacy so the alternative is to periodically monitor what they are doing. Don’t forget about text messaging and pictures on their cell phones. We encourage parents to set up “house rules” about cell and computer use and your right to monitor.
Most area schools in our community enforce a "bully free zone" in the schools and do marketing to promote such programs. We encourage you to discuss any concerns or issues related to bullying (whether being a bully or being bullied) with your school administration and with your pediatrician or nurse practitioner here at PHA.
It is also important for adults to keep their own behaviors in check. Each of us knows someone who exhibits bully behavior in their neighborhood, workplace, place of worship or other venue. Children look to adults to teach them by example. Teach your children tolerance, conflict resolution, forgiveness, anger management and respect for all living beings. Show them how you handle such situations.
Encourage your child to talk with you if they are being bullied. If your child is being bullied, it is important to listen to them. Empathize and discuss ways that might resolve the situation. Affirm your child by letting them know they are loved, that they have your support and that no matter what, you will always be there for them. If your child finds the bullying continues, it is important for you as the adult to step in. Children who feel secure have confidence in themselves are less likely to be victimized.
To learn ways to help your child with bullies, go to http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/best-practices.aspx
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