Post by Laura Jay-Ballinger
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bully is becoming a huge problem for kids in school as well as kids and adults on the internet. According to kidshealth.org, 25 percent of public schools report bullying happens at school on a weekly basis! In addition, 1 in 3 kids report being cyber-bullied and 1 in 6 adults report having experienced cyber-bullying. This is a disturbing trend.
Bullying can be defined as any kind of intentional torment. This includes physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. Sadly, emotional pain inflicted by others can be difficult to forget and can cause lasting damage. Unaddressed, a victim of bullying can develop low self-esteem and even suffer from depression.
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to talk to your kids. Talk to them about bullying even if you don’t know that it is happening. Education regarding what bullying is and what is means can be beneficial for children to help them know how what to do if they are bullied or if they witness bullying. Let your children know that it’s okay to feel scared and embarrassed but that it’s important to tell a trusted adult.
Encourage children to try to ignore the bullying and walk away. Alert them to get help from an adult. Talking preemptively about managing anger can be helpful too. As we all know, it’s hard to walk away sometimes! Educating children on counting to 10 when angry or taking slow, deep breaths to compose oneself can be helpful in a crunch.
If you do suspect your child might be bullied, again, don’t be afraid to ask. Listen in a non-judgmental way and validate their feelings. Bullying can be shaming, so the child needs to feel safe as he is telling of this pain. If your child doesn’t come right out and tell you, pay attention to changes in behavior. Is he suddenly refusing to go to school? Is he not sleeping at night? Be aware but don’t jump to conclusions. If you do discover your child is being bullied, model healthy behavior. Don’t immediately try to address the situation yourself with the bully. Take a breath and decide on a plan of action with your child. Often, the best approach can be collaborating with the school.
Bullying can have long-lasting, devastating affects, but you can be helpful in talking and listening with your child as well as addressing the issue in an appropriate manner with the school. With parents offering education and support, kids can learn to survive bullying and move forward to healthy, productive lives.
Have you had an experience with a bully? Comment below and let us know how you handled the situation.