We hear on the news daily about some kid in some school across the world that was constantly harassed and bullied and ended up taking their own life. It may hit even closer to home and we know a person who was bullied or we experienced it ourselves growing up. Whatever the situation – it’s real. Could my kid be the bully? Is my kid being bullied?
2012 statistics show that many incidents go unreported. An adult is notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. Kids remain silent for many reasons:
- Some kids don’t want to appear as being weak or helpless. They want to handle things themselves to feel in control again.
- They don’t want to be known as a tattletale.
- Many kids fear backlash from the kid who picked on them – which results in further bullying.
- Kids don’t want to convey humiliating experiences (most adults don’t want to either). They may not want adults to know what’s being said about them or what they are being teased about.
- Kids who are bullied may feel like no one cares or that they won’t understand. Often, they already feel socially isolated.
- Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.
We spend a lot of time talking about how to avoid being bullied and how to deal with it, but we never really talk about bully-prevention. How can we help our own children from bullying others?
All education begins in the home. We first must lead by our example. Children are mirrors of their parents and their parents’ behaviors. We must teach our children the proper way to interact with others, how to help others, how demeaning comments can hurt others. A parent must take the lead role in discussing bullying with their child explaining that bullying is never acceptable. A parent needs to set rules around any aggressive behavior and be consistent in enforcing them. We need to show our child that you don’t need to threaten or embarrass others to get what you want. To be sure that your child isn’t bullying others, look for the following signs:
- Your child gets into physical or verbal fights
- Your child has friends who bully others
- Your child is becoming increasingly aggressive
- Your child gets sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- Your child has unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Your child has a history of blaming others for their problems
- Your child doesn’t accept responsibility for their actions
- Your child is competitive and worries about their reputation or popularity
If you feel like your child has been bullied or that they are the ones doing the bullying, speak up now. It’s best to seek out professionals who can help guide through the proper steps of correcting the problem or behavior. Start with your child’s school teacher or school counselor as they’ve been trained to deal with such matters.