Bullying has become a rampant issue for all parents to deal with today. They either have a child who is a victim of bullying, or they are a parent or guardian to a child who has become the bully. What are the bullying reasons and what would make a child a victim of bullying? We all know that bullying is an attempted form of control over another person in either a physical, mental or emotional manner which causes harm or injury to their victim. What we need to understand is the why and how come of both sides so we can prevent this behavior from happening.
When a child is bullied, they perform badly in school, tend to be depressed, may become violent so that they can protect themselves from the bully and have low self-esteem issues. Why did this child become a victim, and what can parents and guardians do to help these victims before a new cycle of bullying begins?
According to the American Psychological Association, the victims are children and adolescents who have a problem with solving social problems. The common victim is one who lacks social skills, has negative thoughts, seems to be isolated and rejected by others. The victim likely has a negative community, family or school environment. The most common victim appears small, insecure, overly sensitive and different from others in the same age range. What all victims tend to share is characterized as such:
- Low Self esteem
- Being afraid
- Giving in too easily or being too submissive
- Little to no sense of humor
- Smaller build, weak or stunted coordination
- Tends to blame self for issues
- Lack of proper social skills
- Low popularity
- Few friends or acquaintances
- Highly dependent on adults around him or her
Victims tend to be passive and will ultimately give in to the bully, giving them the original intended item or behavior such as running away in fear, giving up the possession, or by breaking down in tears. When a victim is submissive or overly passive, this makes them an easier target for the bully. The bully knows and fully understands that they will get what they want, such as the homework assignment or lunch money.
When we understand the effects of being a victim, they will ultimately lead us to ways that can end the victimization and prevent further issues of such behavior. The effects of victimizations are physical, mental and emotional stress, they are tense, show signs of fear, they exhibit signs of fatigue and true listlessness, but mostly they appear sad and depressed. They lose their self-confidence; become more introverted, keeping to themselves for greater periods of time. The school grades and performance will diminish and they show signs of physical ailments. In cases of extreme bullying, victims may resort to forms of violence to others or against themselves, up to and including suicide. Some victims may become violent and take revenge against the bully and any others that they feel did not do anything to help them in their time of need. We see this in school shootings too often now. Parents and guardians can be watchful of any of the signs of victimization and take action to assist the victim. Taking a positive approach can turn the negative situation around and prevent further harm or injury.
The bullying reasons of victimization may seem clear and easy to fix, however, it will take much positive reinforcement and effort. Parents and guardians will play a major role in helping a victim and preventing it. Some of the things that need to be done, not just one time, but on a continual basis:
- Teach methods of solving problems without resorting to violent behavior
- Take bullying seriously and do not make it less than it is for the victim
- Talk to the child each day, discuss how the day went and ask about any possible problems, some children will be embarrassed and will try to not speak about it.
- If you see someone being bullied, put an immediate stop to it; do not let any bully believe they can get away with that behavior even one time.
- Encourage your child to help others when they need it, to stand up for victims so they know they are not alone.
- Give your child positive reinforcement
- Lead by example, do not bully or gossip about others. When your children see it, they are more likely to do the same
- Build your child’s self-esteem and help them build their self-confidence to stand up for what they believe in.
- Participate and support the anti-bullying programs in your area
For many parents, it is the opposite and they find that their child is the bully. It is just as important to determine the reasons for a child being a bully as it is to help the victim. The individual who is the bully will exhibit certain characteristics also. Some of these include:
- The bullying individual does not show sympathy or empathy toward others
- Seems to thrive on aggression or aggressive behavior
- Tends to lean toward being a sore loser at games or sports, is arrogant when winning
- Tends to have many issues with siblings
- Acts impulsively
- Tends to be the leader in all things
According to Clayton R. Cook Ph.D. of Louisiana State University, the common bully has negative beliefs and attitudes toward others, exhibits negative feelings about him or herself, there are negative conflict and poor parenting in the home and is negatively influenced by others easily. They also have negative thoughts and impressions or behaviors about school.
In order to stop the bullying, strict guidelines must be enforced; peer reporting of bullies in school, removal of the bully from the environment until such time as rules and guidelines are followed. The behaviors and the environments of the bully must be targeted. There are programs that will circumvent and prevent further negative actions by the bully. Simultaneous intervention with the bully, the school and the home environment are necessary to build behavioral parental training, building positive problem-solving skills and building peer relationships could be offered in the schools. (Who Is Likely to Become a Bully, Victim or Both, July 8, 2010)
Parents are the best resource for helping their child to cease being the bully. It is difficult to imagine having a child that is the bully, yet it does happen too frequently. Parents can take the issue seriously and not treat the circumstance as a one time affair. Ignoring it could create a more serious issue. Have a talk with your child to figure out the bullying reasons, children may often bully others when they are feeling stressed from changes at home, or having feelings of loss or loneliness themselves. Talk with your child about being bullied, discuss the way it makes the victims feel and discuss empathy and showing feelings of sympathy for others. Arrange a conference with the child’s teacher to discuss any issues happening in classes or grades. Ask yourself if the child is being bullied at home, since a bully is likely to repeat the behavior when they experience it themselves.
Every species has a form of hierarchy, along with hierarchy comes dominance which is ultimately the basis of bullying. What we as the child’s surrounding adults and the biggest part of their environment, need to do is make the idea of bullying a taboo subject and behavior. Not only do we know that it is wrong morally, we have to fight the urge in our youngsters to not be the bully. Our children are the future of the world, and not preventing this behavior as soon as it is evident is only promoting the negative actions. It is difficult to eliminate the behavior when it has been happening since the beginning of time. We need to teach all our children to treat everyone with respect, no matter the race, physical aspect, gender or disability, children must be taught that everyone is equal. Find and teach a method of transferring the negative feelings into something more positive and productive, and supply the means and ways to do so. For example, play a game or talk to someone who they trust. Most of all, teach the child or children that apologies will not make them weak, that saying they are sorry and meaning it will make them a better and stronger individual that others will respect. The bully needs to understand that they do not gain respect by treating others cruelly or harming others in any way.
Be a leader for our youth by setting a good example. Step in to prevent bullying, be there as a trusted adult that the bully and the victim both feel they can talk to and trust. Spread the word in any way you can to get other adults in the movement to prevent and stop any bullying. They will teach their children to step up and help others too.