According to the National Centre Aganist Bullying bullying is when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond. Bullying can continue over time. It is often hidden from adults, and will probably continue if no action is taken. Similarly, some children bully by spreading false rumors.
Cyber-bullying is a form of bullying that takes place via electronic devices like cell phones, tablets or computers. It occurs often in social media, text message, chat rooms/forums or via email. These cyberbullies often post hateful, harmful, false or just plain mean things about others. They also share personal information that can cause a child embarrassment.
The cyberbully hides behind their computer screen. Where it differs from regular bullying is that you might not know who the person is. These “keyboard warriors” can inflict persistent and regular damage to a child’s online presence as opposed to the school yard bully they only see a few hours a day. This should be a very big concern for anyone with a child on social media.
Always take any reports of bullying seriously. This should not be something that your children need to work through or deal with. It can leave lasting effects and as a result has contributed to suicides and school shootings over the years.
Why do children bully?
There are many different reasons why children bully. Sometimes it’s because that’s how they are being treated at home. They may come from a dysfunctional home where this type of behavior is deemed normal. However, you also have instances of bullying by children who are insecure themselves. They bully to feel as though they have power over someone else. It makes them feel like a popular kid or important. They pick on an individual they deem to be weaker than themselves either physically or emotionally.
Signs of bullying
Visible scars and bruises are an easy way to tell if your child is being bullied. However often times there are no outward signs. Your child may begin to show some warning signs:
- They are more anxious than usual
- Children begin to avoid certain situations like riding the bus or staying after school
- Issues sleeping
- Complaining of feeling sick and wanting to stay home from school
- Not eating well
- Suddenly not sharing with you
These are all potential signs that your child may be experiencing some form of bullying that needs your immediate attention.
How to help a child being bullied
As heartbreaking as it is to hear that your child may be a victim of bullying, you must confront the problem head on.
Listen to your child and make sure you are listening to all the details. The common reaction is to fly off the handle and want to take the bullying child down yourself but you must remain calm. Your child may feel embarrassed by the whole situation and find it hard to open up about what is going on. They may feel as though they are disappointing you so remain calm and listen. It’s possible that they may even feel as if it is their fault. They may also find themselves scared that if the bully finds out things may get worse.
Do not urge them to fight back if they are not willing to do so. Urging them to strike back at the bully may only make them more scared and could make them less willing to share information with you.
Let the child know they did the right thing by coming to you and speaking about this. Assure them that you will help to get to the bottom of this and rectify the situation.
If this is something that is occurring at school bring it to the attention of a teacher, principal or guidance counselor. It is their job to take further steps in school to avoid these types of conflicts.
Ask your child to avoid the bully if possible. Don’t travel the same route or travel with a friend between classes, on the bus or on their walk home from school. If they are confronted they should try not to show fear. Don’t cry or look upset. That’s what the bully wants to see. They want to feel powerful over the child. Instead ignore them and walk away.
Bullying is something that no parent ever wants to have to deal with. Our job is to protect our children and we never want to hear that they are going through a difficult time or being picked on. It’s critical that we recognize the signs of bullying and act to help our children.
Bullying can take a toll on a child’s self-confidence so do all you can to build your child up should they have to face this terrible situation. Make certain they are around their true friends and ones that will stick up for them should they need it. There is strength in numbers.
Has your child or someone you know had to deal with bullying? How did they handle the unfortunate situation? Comment below.