Recently there has been quite a bit of attention placed on childhood bullying and with good reason. According to a recent survey funded by the NICHD, more than sixteen percent of school aged children say they have been bullied by other classmates during their present semester. Ten percent of the surveyed students said they had been bullied by other school mates but had never bullied others.
Studies have found that people who were bullied as children often have low self-esteem issues and problems with depression during their adult years and those who bullied are more likely to get involved with some kind of criminal activity later in life. Researchers defined the bullying as a type of behavior that is used to intentionally harm or disturb another person and usually takes place repeatedly over time. It can involve physical harm or injury, verbal abuse and psychological harm. According to the results of this NICHD survey, bullying appears to occur more in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The survey also found that boys also more likely to be bullied or to be the target of a bully than girls are. Boys also tend to be bullied more through physical abuse and girls more by verbal and psychological abuse.
Many bullied students said they had difficulty making friends in school and had poorer relationships than their fellow classmates. They also reported having more feelings of loneliness than other students. It appears that students who are socially isolated or have difficulty making friends are at an increased risk of being bullied. Other students might avoid kids who are being bullied out of fear they too will become a victim. Studies also found that bully’s were more likely to have difficulties with other behaviors such as drinking or smoking as well as doing poorly in their school work. Students who were at both ends with being bullied and being a bully themselves appeared to do the worst of all the study groups.
The results of the study suggest more research needs to be done in order to understand and figure out ways to intervene against bullying. Bully intervention program’s implemented at several schools have shown to have helpful results.
The following link is a quiz parents can complete on-line if they suspect their child might be a victim: http://pediatrics.about.com/library/quiz/blquiz_bullied_scng.htm?page=0&start=1
Bullying can involve physically harming someone by hitting or punching, verbally by teasing and name calling, non-verbally by intimidation using social exclusion and gestures, and emotional or cyberspace bullying by sending e-mails or phone messages that are insulting or threatening.
Older children and especially boys often will not tell a parent or an adult at school about the bullying that is taking place, therefore it is important for parents to be aware of what to look for in their child. Some of the signs to watch for that could mean a child is being bullied consist of: coming home after school with torn clothing, missing or damaged books or personal property, unexplained cuts, scrapes or bruises, does not have many friends or does not spend time with the friends they do have, appears afraid or apprehensive to go to school, ride the bus or walk to and from school as well as avoids school activities.
Other possible signs may include: taking a long route to get to and from school, loss of his or her interest in schoolwork or receives poor grades when they had always been a high grade earner or their personality or normal demeanor suddenly changes with signs of being angry, depressed, or sad. Children can also complain a great deal about not feeling well, having a headache and other related ailments in order to get excused from going to school. Many experienced bad dreams or problems with sleeping and self-esteem issues as well as being very anxious. If you notice these changes and think there is a chance your child is being bullied, its important to speak with them right away.
According to a nonprofit resource center for parents living in Minneapolis called “Hero’s and Dreams Foundation”, one out of every ten students is bullied at least once a week at school. Bully’s usually pick students who appear to them to be more vulnerable than others. It can make school miserable for the student being bullied and also cause a drop in grades as well as cause a great deal of interference with school work.
When discussing with your child about the possibility of them being bullied, let them know you believe what they are telling you and assure them you are taking this seriously. Let them know the situation will be resolved. Reassure them you do not think this is their fault in any way as there is no excuse for bullying anyone.
It will benefit your child more if you teach him or her how to solve the problem by mainly doing it themselves with you in the background as their cheerleader, adviser and someone to see they are protected. By learning how to stand up for themselves and be more assertive and confident, they will have the knowledge and skills to handle other types of situations in their adult years. Let your child know you will never take any action until you speak with them first. Try role playing with your child at home. Work on helping your child to build confidence and develop good social skills.
Suggest to your child to stick with a couple of schoolmates when he or she is on the school playground, at the bus stop or places where they come face-to-face with the bully. Assure your child it’s okay to ask for help from teachers and other school staff members. If you feel your child could benefit by developing better social skills, work with them on being able to better stick up for themselves and for others. Encourage your child to invite friends to their home and to participate in school activities. If you find it necessary to speak with school officials set up a meeting time. Keep in mind that bullying is not a normal part of growing up.