HELP IDENTIFY AND STOP ACTS OF BULLYING

 

BULLIES AND THE BULLIED: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The act of bullying is a sign of insecurity, and therefore, bullies usually target kids who aren't confident or assertive enough to stand up to them. Male bullies are easier to detect, as they often have a positive view towards violence and may be aggressive and frequently angry.

Female bullies usually use isolation techniques to bully victims. They spread nasty gossip or lies and try to manipulate others to "hate" the victim. They are often popular and have an obsession with being popular. Female bullies usually have a strong clique of friends.

Spotting a bullying victim, on the other hand, can be hard. They may seem disconnected from school or extracurricular activities. Although they may have outward signs of physical violence (scars, cuts, bruises), they may only complain of non-visible physical ailments (headaches or stomachaches). Often, they will be anxious and suffer from low self-esteem.

Households were once a safe haven where kids and teens could feel protected from their peers. Now, with the expansive nature of social media and other online channels, bullying can even reach them in the privacy of their homes. Bullying can occur in any place, at any time, and to anyone. When a child becomes the target of online (cyber) bullying, the emotional and psychological implications can be serious.

HOW TO HANDLE A BULLY

When a bullying situation is observed as a teacher or authority figure, it is important to use immediate, consistent, and non-hostile punishment to address the situation. Post classroom rules regarding bullying and schedule time where students can talk openly and freely about bullying or any other issue that may arise.

Communicate quickly and openly with parents of students - whether they are the bully or the victim - and together work to come up with a plan of action. Build the child or student's self-esteem by making them aware of their strengths instead of weaknesses. Calling attention to the positive attributes the child or student possesses will help them feel more confident in the face of all sorts of criticism.

If you are a parent of a bully, make sure your child knows that their behavior is wrong. Find a way to open their eyes to how the children they are bullying might feel, and help them try to understand their perspective. Try to figure out and talk about why they are bullying other kids, and above all else, model respectful and kind behavior.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

 

ARE YOU A PARENT?

Make sure you talk with your children regularly about how bullying is not okay. You should create an open communication between you and your child on the topic of bullying. If they are ever bullied or witness a classmate or friend being bullied, they should know how to react. As most parents know, kids don't always want to talk openly about the problem.

The most common reasons for their hesitations include:

They think their parents will make the situation worse

They believe their parents will not understand the situation

They are afraid their parents will overreact to the situation

They worry that their parents will do something to embarrass them

They think their parents will constantly want to discuss the situation

Parents should begin a discussion with the child by addressing these concerns. If you start the conversation with, "I will not do anything you do not want me to do," or "We will figure out a solution together to make it stop," you'll have a better chance at an honest discussion with your child about the bullying situation.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP BULLYING?

As a parent, you probably aren't on the front line where bullying takes place. Regardless, the strategy is the same - first, open an honest dialogue with your child. Nothing will prepare your child more than meaningful discussions where can they feel safe to tell you everything.

Once you've established this trust, begin having small nightly discussions to help your child understand WHY people bully others, and develop small strategies to help counteract it.

LET'S KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT

 

FIRST: THE WHY

Parents, discuss the bullying problem honestly with your child. Let them know that some kids choose to do mean things to other kids. Help them understand that it is not their fault in any way, and that bullies usually have their own issues that foster these tendencies. Discuss candidly the possible reasons why kids bully:

Educators, talk openly about bullying with your students. Hold classroom discussions about how bullying makes others feel - and encourage students to discuss their thoughts on bullying. Finally, help guide the conversation and let them know that bullying will not be tolerated at school - and should be reported if witnessed.

SECOND: THE STRATEGY

Successful solutions stem from a strong strategy. Talk with children and come up with a workable plan on how to react to bullying. Nothing will help arm children with confidence more than knowing they have a plan if they encounter bullying.

Anxiety, often caused from not knowing when bullies will strike next, will be greatly diminished if kids feel like they have a way out. These strategies should never involve physical violence or retaliation. Rather, simply help kids formulate a well-thought-out way to react to and report any bullying.

Kids who have a plan feel safe and more confident in knowing that bullying is wrong. They are less likely to be hurt by the mean behavior of their peers - and more likely to talk openly about what happened.

THE LAW SAYS

 

YOU HAVE LEGAL OPTIONS

If your child has suffered an injury or mental anguish as a result of bullying at school, it might be necessary to consult a lawyer to assure your child's well being. Most lawyers will offer a free consultation and will be able to tell you if you have legal recourse for dealing with a school bully.

Parents must decide when the line is crossed and when it is time to take legal action. Sometimes this is a very difficult decision. Becoming familiar with the "Protection From Harassment Act" will help.

There are two actionable criminal offenses that may relate to bullying:

The offense of actual harassment

The offense of placing people "in fear of violence"

Schools have a responsibility to thwart bullying, ensuring the safety of all children. Any threatening behavior - psychological or physical - should be documented and addressed with both the victim and bully. Often, this is enough to stop the bullying act. If not, then it might be a good idea to start a legal discussion with an attorney to understand your rights.

RESOURCES AND HELP

 

PUBLIC RESOURCES

Bullying should never be ignored. Use the resources below to learn more about how and when to seek additional or professional help.

American Psychological Association International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment Society for Occupational Health Psychology Society for Human Resource ManagementCDC Podcasts: Bullying Prevention for Kids Teen Health and Wellness

HOTLINES

Help is only a phone call away. If you or anyone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, in immediate danger, or might harm themselves or others, pick up the phone.

CRISIS CALL CENTER

800-273-8255
or text "ANSWER" to 839863

twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week

CrisisCallCenter.org/CrisisServices

CYBER TIPLINE

800-843-5678
or text "ANSWER" to 839863

twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week

CyberTipline.com

THE TREVOR LIFELINE

(U.S. only)
866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)

twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week

TheTrevorProject.org

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

800-273-TALK (8255)

twenty-four hours a day, seven days a weeks

SuicidePreventionLifeline.org

 
 

NATIONAL HOPELINE
NETWORK

800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
800-442-HOPE (4673)

twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week

Hopeline.com

 

SPEAK UP

866-SPEAK-UP (773-2587)

twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week

cpyv.org

THURSDAY's CHILD
NATIONAL YOUTH
ADVOCACY HOTLINE

800-USA-KIDS (872-5437)

twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week

ThursdaysChild.org

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