Over the years bullying has become worse, and more evolved. Twenty years ago, bullying usually only occurred on the playground at school, on the school bus, or at the neighborhood park. Since technology has given us the internet, social networking, and Smartphones, bullying has become much more serious, and much more dangerous.
Studies have shown that over 3.2 million students are victims of either traditional bullying or cyberbullying every year. When this bullying occurs, one in four teachers do not even see it. Of those who do see what is going on, they will intervene only 4% of the time. These statistics are frightening. It is important to understand anti bullying facts to change these statistics.
When a child or a teen is bullied, it can have a huge effect on their life. Most children feel ashamed, and will not want to tell anyone. It is important that parents and educators know the warning signs that a child is getting bullied.
- Becoming withdrawn: When a child is being bullied, often times they become withdrawn. If you notice that your child is no longer doing things that they normally enjoyed doing, especially if it is a group activity, chances are they are being bullied, and are afraid to do these activities.
- Finding reasons to miss school: When a child or teen is being bullied, they are likely to find excuses to miss school. They may pretend that they are too sick to go, or in serious cases, they will refuse to go with no explanation why. It is also not uncommon for a child who is being bullied to skip school without their parent’s knowledge.
- Accidents: When younger children are being bullied, particularly in kindergarten and first grade, they may regress and being wetting their pants. This is major warning sign for parents and educations and should not be ignored.
- Social networks: If your child or teen spent a great deal of their time on various social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and suddenly stops communicating and posting on these sites, chances are they are being cyberbullied by another user or a group of users on these sites.
- Physical injuries: If your child is coming home with cuts, scrapes, and bruises often, and either does not want to tell you how the injury occurred, or comes up with less than plausible excuses as to how they occurred, they are most likely being bullied.
- Possessions mysteriously go missing: If your child comes home and claim that they lost their jacket, their new sneakers, and even school supplies, there is a chance that they are being bullied. Also, if your child is coming home hungry everyday, claiming that they lost their lunch money, there is a good chance that there is a bully stealing their lunch money.
- Refusal to ride the bus: If your child suddenly refuses to ride the school bus, when they normally have no problem, they are likely being bullied on the bus ride to school.
- Change in sleep habits: If your child is having nightmares often, or is having difficulty sleeping, these are signs that they could be getting bullied.
- Grades begin dropping: If your child is normally a good student, and suddenly you notice a significant drop in their grades, it is a good sign that they are being bullied.
- Talk of suicide: If your child expresses feelings of helplessness, or talks about suicide, they are likely being bullied. These signs should be taken very seriously. There have been many cases where a child is being bullied or cyberbullied, and attempts suicide. It is important to intervene immediately in these serious cases.
Years ago, parents and educations had a “kids will be kids” attitude when it came to bullying. This is a very irresponsible reaction to bullying. It is important for the child’s mental and physical well being that something is done as soon as bullying is suspected or confirmed.
- Contact the school or parents: If you are a teacher who suspects bullying, you should contact the student’s parents immediately. You should also report the problem to your superior. If you are a parent who suspects that your child is being bullied, you should contact the school immediately so that the problem can be handled.
- Contact the police: If the bullying is serious enough to have adverse effects on your child’s mental or physical health, you should contact the police. It is never a good idea to contact the parents of the child who is doing the bullying. You cannot be sure how the parents are going to react, and it can make the problem worse. It is best to leave the problem up to the police for your safety, and the safety of your child.
- Get your child to talk: If you suspect that your child is being bullied, it is important to get your child to open up, and tell you what is going on. If you cannot get your child to talk, you can turn to a sibling, or another family member who the child trusts to try to get them to open up.
- Get professional help: If you are having trouble getting your child to open up, and family and friends have failed also, taking your child to see a therapist is a good idea. A therapist who specializes in bullying has an excellent chance of getting through to your child. If your child has opened up about what is going on, it is still a good idea to have them see a therapist. A professional may be able to allow them to see that the bullying is not their fault, and will have tools to help your child get past the trauma of the bullying.
- Log onto their computer/tablet/Smartphone: If you suspect that your child is being bullied, it is a good idea to check their social network sites. Chances are, if they are being bullied, or cyberbullied, there will be evidence on their social networking pages. If you do find that there is bullying going on, the information that you obtained may be of use to to school or police if they are forced to intervene.
How to Prevent Bullying
As a parent, there is not much that you can do to prevent your child from ever being bullied. You cannot keep your child locked up to keep them safe. In order to prevent bullying, it is up to parents, educators, and even the media as a group. To keep your child from being bullied, it takes a group effort.
- Awareness: It is important for children, teens, and parents to be aware that bullying is going on. Recently, the media has been doing their part in awareness with various anti-bullying campaigns.
- Have policies set in place: It is important for schools to have zero tolerance anti-bullying policies set in place. The school should make sure that students understand what bullying is, what it does to a person, and what the consequences are of bullying another student.
- School Assemblies: Many schools these days are having anti-bullying assemblies. Students attend these assemblies during school and listen to speeches. Many schools have the police come in, and explain the legal consequences of bullying. Schools can also bring in therapists, to discuss the emotional issues that being bullied can lead to, and also to offer support to students being bullied after the assembly is over. Many schools will bring in students who have been bullied, or who were bullies so that they can tell their story, and how bullying effected their life. Giving students a chance to have all outlets available at once can be very helpful.
- Proactive parenting: Talking with your children often about being bullied, or being a bully is important. A child’s morals start at home. When parents begin talking to their children at a young age about bullying, and how it is not tolerated, the child will be less likely to be a bully, and may feel comfortable opening up if they are bullied.
- Monitor internet use: Cyberbullying is very common these days. If parents monitor their child’s internet use, they can prevent their child from bullying another, or recognize that their child is the one being bullied. They can then, take the necessary steps to put it to an end.
Bullying and cyberbullying is a very big problem in the world today. It is up to the children, parents, educators, health professionals, and the media to all work together so that no more children will suffer the mental and physical effects of bullying. The old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”. In the case of bullying and cyberbullyingbullying, this saying makes more sense than ever.