Bullying is the hot topic in the educational world as well as our personal world, and this month is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Due to the social media outbreak, bullies can reach targets quickly and from afar. This subject seems to surface quite frequently in workshops and private consults, in PTA meetings as well as classrooms.
The questions remain: “What EXACTLY is bullying vs teasing and playing around?” and “What can I do to help?”
Encarta dictionary states that a bully is an aggressive person who intimidates or mistreats weaker people. According to StopBullying.gov there are three types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying: Teasing, namecalling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, and threatening to cause harm.
- Social bullying: Purposeful exclusion, telling others not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors, or embarrassing someone in public
- Physical bullying: Hitting, kicking, spitting, tripping or pushing, breaking someone’s things, mean or rude hand gestures.
Because this is such a hot topic, the California Department of Education has not only classified bullying into four components: verbal, physical, social, and sexual, but it is listed on the first page of the website. I would highly recommend parents to begin there as there are many reference links listed to help parents as well as schools.
Many parents have expressed to me, and I have felt at times with my own children, that educational professionals and some parents are in denial that “age appropriate” talk or behavior is harmful. There are enough cases in the media from every state and country that have exemplified the fact that bullying is harmful and requires immediate attention.
The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20 percent of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
The 2008–09 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, 28 percent of students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
According to www.stompingoutbullying.com every seven minutes a child is bullied. A total of 23 percent of elementary children are bullied one to three times a month. One out of five kids has admitted to being a bully.
These statistics seem to be on the rise and thus the reason for national and local attention. So now what? What can a parent do?
- Educate yourself. Visit websites, read books, involve your children in the exploration.
- Ask your school questions. How is the administration committed to address bullying? What training have teachers had to not only recognize signs of bullying but to immediately end the behaviors? Is there an antibullying action plan for the school? How are the children taught about bullying?
- Educate your child. Many children say or do things that could easily fit into the categories above. Without strong punishment, talk to your child and educate them on their words and actions may be perceived as bullying.
- MODEL: Watch your behavior as a parent.
- Monitor internet sources. Collect phones at bedtime and review texts. Computer usage is never in the bedroom.
If your child is a bully, educate! If your child is bullied, speak to the parents or educational professional immediately. This is a hot topic for a reason.
Have you had experiences with bullying? How do you address the topic in your home? Share your thoughts in our comments section below.