Martha walks down the hallway at school. A group of girls pass her and one of the girls, Beth, snickers.
“Nice shoes,” Beth says sarcastically looking down at Martha’s new, red shoes that she wore for the first time today. The rest of the girls laugh at the remark and they all walk away. Martha now feels insecure about the clothes she wears and goes home and asks her mother for new shoes but does not tell her why—Martha never cared about the shoes she wore until the girls drew attention to her’s and made her feel inadequate because she was not wearing the same type of shoes as the other girls.
This is teasing.
Samuel walks down the hallway at school and a boy name Bobby knocks down the books Samuel is holding. When Samuel tries to say something to Bobby, Bobby makes a fist with his hand.
“What, dork?” Bobby threatens and continues walking down the hallway. Samuel is left feeling afraid and uncertain about his safety in his school.
While teasing is a type of verbal bullying, there are certain differences that characterizes the two as somewhat separate. While bullying is a type of physical or verbal abuse intended to harm the victim, teasing can be unintentional but can be just as hurtful. Teasing involves making snide remarks concerning another person because of a difference or judgment about him or her. The group of girls were teasing Martha,but they were not necessary bullying her. Bullying is repeat offenses of teasing that poke fun or ridicule a person based on race, religion, ethnicity, economic standing, appearance, or other important characteristics, according to kidspot.com. Teasing can be playful and even mutual; however, no matter the intention of the teaser, if the person being teased feels inferiority, threatened, or insecure by the teasing, it is important to address the problems they are facing because no student should go through school feeling as though they are being judged on anything other than their academics by their teachers.
It important to establish this distinction because handling teasing and handling bullying are two very different situations. Most teachers, especially in high school and older, will overlook teasing while bullying is seen as a more serious issue. However, if you have ever been teased, you know that teasing can be very hurtful and demeaning, so it is important to know how you feel and know how to approach someone who is hurting you. The phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” may be easy to say in your head, but words can hurt, so it is important to do what you need to do in order for you to feel safe and happy in your school environment or any other environment you are being teased in.
Why do Kids Tease?
There are a variety of reasons why children tease, just like there are many reasons why children bully. A child could feel powerless in some aspect of their life and teasing others makes them feel more powerful. The person could be trying to show off in front of other kids in order to feel part of a group. In the example with Martha, the girls in the groups snickered when the teaser made the remark about Martha’s shoes, they could have snickered in order to feel part of the group or for Beth, the leader, to like them. Also, Beth could have been jealous of Martha’s shoes and in feeling jealous, she criticized Martha’s shoes in order to feel better about the shoes she had. Children, especially younger children, may tease as a sign of affection. A boy may tease a girl about her hair just because he thinks she is pretty and he does not know how to express his affection. Children tease for a range of reasons that differ from person to person, but that does not make the victim unscathed from his/her remarks.
How to Help your Child
It may be hard to know if your child is being continually teased at school if they do not come forward and tell you himself/herself. However, it is important to know if you child feels secure at school because teasing can easily turn into bullying, and teasing, just as bullying, can have detrimental effects on your child. So, it is important to watch out for warning signs that could lead you to realizing that there is a problem with your child. According to scholastic.com, there are warning signs to look for if you feel as if your child may be being teased:
1.Look for a difference in behavior
If your child seems withdrawn or passive toward you or is acting out of the ordinary, try asking him/her how he/she is doing in school. If the child responds vaguely or distantly, it may be necessary to look further into what may be occurring at your child’s school.
2.Look for frequent crying
If you catch your child crying more than he/she does, he/she may be going through problems at school. It is important to be gentle with your child and approach them with care and open-mindedness to let him/her know that you are there if help is needed.
3.Look for Recurring Complaints
If your child complains of headaches, stomachaches, or other issues repeatedly that do not seem to have a cause but prevents them from wanting to attend school, there may be a deeper problem.
4.Look for Drops in Grades
If your child’s grades drop, it is important to approach him/her gently in case there is a problem distracting them from their schoolwork. Try asking the child’s teacher if your child has seemed distracted in class or if they have noticed any problems with your child and other students.
5.Look for Unexplained Changes in Social Behavior
If your child was once active socially and now hardly ever goes out, there may be a problem at his or her school. Again, talking to your child is the best bet for an accurate reading of what is going on in the situation. You know your child the best, so it is important to try to catch these signs early.
How to Help Yourself
If you are being teased at school or any other environment, it is important to note if you are being negatively affected by it. Do not just dismiss it if it is truly bothering you. Follow these few tips if you are being teased at school.
1.Talk to the Teaser
If you feel safe enough to do so, approach the person teasing you and ask them to stop. They may not even know that what they are saying is hurting you. Oftentimes, the person teasing you can be your friend and they think it is okay to tease you, so telling them to stop may be all that is needed.
2.Tell a Trusted Adult
If you feel as though you cannot tell the person hurting you yourself that you do not appreciate their remarks, go to a teacher, parent, or other trusted adult who can handle the situation and help you. This is especially important if the teasing elevates to aggressive action.
3.Avoid the Person
If you often pass by the person teasing you in a certain hallway, try avoiding that area or going a different way to class. This may seem like a passive approach, but it can help you ignore the person.
4.Remember that Words are just Words
It may seem hard to be a “sticks and stones” types of person, but in reality, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Remember how awesome you are!