Bullying in our society is at epidemic proportions. So many of our youngsters are the victims of bullies at schools and on the streets. Many youth go to bed scared at night and wake up terrified each morning if they sleep at all, as the result of bullying. Victims live in constant fear for their safety and well being.
By definition bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Often, it is repeated over time and can take many forms. Typically, victims are those kids that don’t seem to “fit in” or appear to be “different”. For example they may be overweight, have developmental or learning problems, or are very passive and unlikely to stand up for themselves and mount any type of self defense.
If you’ve had any experience with bullying you know that it can have tragic affects. In addition to physical abuse, victims can suffer emotional and mental problems as a result. Bullies on the other hand are prone to violence and over time the level of violence is likely to become more and more intense.
Facts About Bullying
Nearly 6 million kids in America are involved in bullying. They are either the bully, a victim of a bully or in some cases both. Males and females report involvement, though males are much more likely to take part in physical bullying such as punching, hitting, slapping, striking, or pushing. Females are more likely to start rumors, make comments about sex, gossip or try to convince others to exclude another female.
How Can You Help
If you are the parent of a child between the ages of 6 and 18 then it is very likely that they have experience with bullying either directly or indirectly. With nearly 30 percent of kids reporting either being bullied or bullying someone, the likelihood is strong that your child at least knows the school bully.
- Get involved with your child, communicate and know what happens in their world day to day. Encourage open and honest communication by creating an environment based upon trust and love. You kid should feel confident that no matter what problem they are facing they can turn to you for help and guidance. If this does not sound like your relationship, today is a great time to make the change.
- Involvement at your child’s school. Volunteer for school events and help out on campus. Get to know the administration and teachers. Like most things awareness goes along way toward invoking change. Focus on the social environment at the school. To reduce bullying, work to change the climate and the social norms with regard to bullying. Your job is to make it “uncool” to bully anyone…period.
- There is always strength in numbers. Get different student organizations and clubs involved. Begin a series of articles in the school newspaper about “Bully Prevention”. Invite a strong, respected community leader to come and speak on the topic and reinforce the message that it’s “not cool” to bully. Create a support or help group for victims of bullies. The group should contain a mix of student leaders, parents, teachers and administrators. This group should offer and provide anonymous help and support if necessary.
- Sometimes it is hard to get the “real picture”, especially for adults, regarding the atmosphere at school and in social settings. The use of anonymous surveys or questionnaires are a great way to help put the pieces together. If you are going through the effort to put a survey together, spend the time record and publish your findings for all to see.
- Self defense classes are a great way to teach students how to protect themselves while building self esteem and confidence. A search of your community is likely to return several self defense courses; many free of charge. Encourage students to participate.
Remember millions of kids suffer extreme anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, and sleepless nights as the direct result of a bully. Studies show that the long term effects of this trauma can be very serious. So even if your child is not involved, your involvement in needed. Overtime you can truly change the culture and environment of the school for the better. You will be helping to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to learn in a safe and secure educational environment without the fear and stress of a bully.