How to Pick out the School Bullies before they Start

No one who has ever been bullied came out mentally, emotionally and physically intact from that experience. If asked about such experiences, they can recall every hurting and humiliating detail even as adults.

Bullying in school is one of the greatest concerns that children, parents and teachers face. It creates fear among the students and may be a cause for their dislike in participating and attending classes. It hinders the learning process or renders teaching ineffective at times.

It is a challenge for parents to teach their children values and expect to retain them when they are faced with this kind of destructive behavior. How can we let them understand not to retaliate in the same manner when they are bombarded with verbal and physical onslaughts in school? Bullying is not an acceptable behavior but children just can’t expect to close their eyes or pray it will go away.

As adults in charge, we have the responsibility to aid children being bullied. But intervening only when the problem is at hand is not enough. It is also essential to prevent and stop bullying from ever occurring. What can be done to avert this?

We have to know what bullying entails and be able to recognize its signs. Bullying involves cruel or negative acts which may be directly or indirectly accomplished. Direct bullying is physical aggression that may include shoving, hitting, slapping, beating, kicking or grabbing hair. On the other hand, indirect bullying may be comprised of verbal or psychological abuse such as taunting, name calling, mocking or false rumors. Bullies repeatedly single out students whom they can dominate and feel superior. They may bully just to have “fun,” to get attention, be accepted socially or may be bullied themselves. It may be a “tradition” in situations where seniors or “upper class” and school gangs want to show their superiority to juniors or lowerclassmen.

It is often hard to determine if a child is being bullied in the absence of visible bruises or injuries. One has to be aware of warning signs which includes moodiness or acting differently, anxiousness in certain situations, refusing to eat, dreading school or simply not doing activities previously enjoyed. Find ways or opportunities as a parent or teacher, enabling the children to open up. Reassure them that it is never their fault and they are not alone. These are some advices you can give to your children to handle bullying:

1) Never retaliate in kind. Fighting gives satisfaction to the bully who thrives on it and can escalate into violence.
2) Boost your self-confidence by doing “feel-good-activities”. Feeling good about yourself helps you to become emotionally stable and hold your anger back.
3) Be surrounded by friends or use the buddy system and make sure you are not alone with a bully. Bullies tend to veer away from groups.
4) Avoid bullies if possible. But if “cornered,” stand up for yourself and use that self-confidence. This will make bullies hesitate to mess with you.
5) Ignore the bully or don’t show your feelings. Acting like you didn’t care or didn’t hear anything can help stop the bully’s behavior because no satisfaction can be derived by it.
6) Talk about it to an adult. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to seek counseling or talk to an adult you trust. It may be a teacher, your parents or an older brother/ sister. Feel proud that telling somebody will not only help you but also other kids who are being bullied.

Studies have shown that if aggressive behavior is not challenged during childhood, there is a danger for it to be habitual. It puts children at risk for domestic violence in adulthood and criminal behavior. In order to prevent this from happening, several programs are continuously developed to discourage bullying, teach student cooperation and strengthen peer support. Victims and their families have a legal recourse against a school or faculty for failure to give adequate supervision. We should all be aware of these issues because it can happen to anybody especially your children. Take an active part to maintain school safety, primarily focusing on the fact that bullying or violent behavior should never be tolerated.