Bullying: Detrimental to Victim and Perpetrator
Much attention has been placed recently on childhood bullying. What is bullying? Teasing becomes bullying when it is repetitive or when there is a conscious intent to hurt another child, according to Merle Froschl, Co-Director of Educational Equity Concepts, a non-profit organization that addresses issues of teasing and bullying.
Bullying has many forms and all are detrimental to a child’s well being. The results of bullying can show up in many forms. Parents and teachers can look for these warning signs if you think your child or student is being bullied:
• Increased passivity or withdrawal
• Frequent crying
• Complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach ache or headaches
• Unexplained bruises
• Sudden drop in grades or other learning problems
• Not wanting to go to school
• Significant changes in social life—no one is calling or inviting the child to activities
• Sudden change in the way the child talks—calls himself a loser or a former friend a jerk
If you find a child is being bullied, help the child by encouraging him/her to talk. Be empathetic. Ask the child what he/she thinks might help. Help the child begin to problem solve. Role play situations and teach the child ways to respond effectively advises Vicki DeLuca, mother of three and a graduate student at Fairfield University doing research on bullying. When adults see buyllying, they need to intervene to help children resolve bullying issues. Try to find an intermediary. Even if the bullying occurs outside of school, a teacher, counselor or after-school program director may be able to mediate a productive decision. At school, a close partnership between parents and teachers is an effective frontline defense against bullying. Share what the child has told you and describe any teasing or bullying you may have witnessed.
Bullying includes a range of behaviors, all of which result in an imbalance of power among children:
• Verbal—making threats, name calling
• Psychological—excluding children, spreading rumors
• Physical—hitting, pushing, taking another’s possessions
Gender makes a difference when it comes to bullying. Girls are usually subtle and indirect according to Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Instead of snatching something from another child, a girl might say, “Give me that toy or I won’t be your friend anymore.” Girls also use the silent treatment, roll their eyes in class or make rude noises. Boys, on the other hand, tend to be more physical, according to James Silvia, who has taught for 38 years at St. Bernard’s School in New York City. “Boys push each other or take someone’s sneaker and put it in the garbage, but they don’t hold grudges.”
Bullying behavior is prevalent throughout the world and cuts across socio-economic, racial/ethnic and cultural lines. Researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either perpetrators or victims. Victims are often shy and tend to be physically weaker than their peers. They may have low self-esteem and poor social skills, which makes it hard for them to stand up for themselves. Bullies like to feel powerful and in control. They are insensitive to the feelings of others and defiant toward adults. The effects of bullying on victims can be physical and emotional and will probably affect the child’s schoolwork. Bullying victims often have trouble concentrating and their grades drop and may grow up with diminished self-confidence.
Bullies are affected, too. They may have difficulty forming positive relationships and are more apt to use tobacco and alcohol. Childhood bullies are more likely to become young adult criminals and abusive spouses and parents than are non-bullies.
We sometimes see bullying as an inevitable part of childhood. Yet, according to world-wide research There are ways to stop bullying. Based on decades of research, 50 percent reductions in rates of bullying are possible.
For more information on bullying prevention, visit these web sites:
• Fight Crime: Invest in Kids at www.fightcrime.org
• Safe Communities Safe Schools, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at www.colorado.edu/cspv/safeschools/bullying/overview.html
• Research based strategies to reduce bullying in schools at www.stopbullyingnow.com
• Olweus Bullying Prevention at www.samhsa.gov
This information provided by MSN’s web site, Bixby Community Prevention Coalition, and stopbullingnow.com