“You’re fat and ugly! No one likes you!” These are words some of our children are suffering every day from bullies at school. These cruel words can cause poor self-esteem, withdrawal from school activities and family, and severe depression for the victim. Too often, these bullies know how to fly under the radar and never get caught. Getting a child who is the victim of a bully to open up to an adult can be challenging as well. As bullying laws get tougher in our schools, the bullies are turning to the Internet to continue their crimes. Fortunately, parents are not without bullying resources to help end bullying in their communities.
Bullying Resources : Signs of Bullying
Sometimes, there are obvious signs of bullying, such as withdrawal from social activities and uncharacteristic mood swings. If left unchecked, a child suffering at the hands of a bully can develop depression which may tragically lead to suicide.
What does a parent do when they suspect bullying, but their child doesn’t open up about the problem? There are typical signs a serious problem is developing such as wanting to stay home from school more frequently than normal. However, other symptoms may be a little less recognizable.
According to info.character.org the child may:
• Self-mutilate, which can be hidden under clothing.
• Stop using the bathroom at school and have intense urges to go once he/she arrives home. Often, bullying occurs in the school bathroom where it is difficult to monitor.
• Develop a fear of being left alone.
• Become the bully to younger siblings.
• Start losing money, toys, and articles of clothing.
• Have difficulty sleeping.
Bullying Resources: What can be Done About a Bully?
If any of these signs are apparent, immediate action needs to occur. Directly asking your child may offer the best answers. They may answer no, but their body language could say something totally different. A child may suffer the bully in silence, thinking that if they tell the problem will get worse. The child needs to be reassured that they are certainly not alone and the bully can be stopped.
Talking to the child’s teachers, coaches, and the principal will be the next steps. More and more schools are adopting a zero tolerance policy for bullying and offer other bullying resources. The more eyes on the situation, the greater the chances of solving the issue.
Not all bullying situations are going to happen at school. An increasingly popular way for a bully to access the victim is through the internet. This is called cyber bullying and it has gained national recognition. Since parents frequently do not monitor what their children are doing while online, they may not be aware this is happening.
Bullying Resources: Cyber Bullying
The signs of cyber bullying are not exactly the same as the other types. Cyberbullying.us tells us that cyber bullying victims will often want to stop using the computer, get nervous when they receive an instant message or e-mail. Additionally, they may feel depressed after using the computer and refuse to discuss their online activities.
After recognizing these symptoms, a parent can talk with their child about cyber bullies and the ways to prevent its occurrence. According to one of the government bullying resources, stopbullying.gov, these steps of Bullying Resources include:
• Documenting the instances where the cyber bullying occurred.
• Blocking the bully.
• Reporting this bullying to the online service provider.
• Reporting the bullying to the social media safety centers used by the bully.
• Reporting the bullying to law enforcement. Inform them of any violent threats, breaches of privacy, stalking, and sexually explicit messages. In some states, cyber bullying is a criminal offense.
• Reporting the bullying to schools. Often, cyber bullying and in-person bullying are related and a school can respond to both offenses.
Bullying Resources: Bully Prevention
While it may be impossible to always prevent a bully from victimizing other children, parents can arm their kids with a plan. This may help a child feel less vulnerable and confident that help is only a moment away. Schools getting involved in bully prevention are one of the most powerful tools, as is when an entire community steps up.
Stopbullying.gov offers a wealth of ideas to help parents talk to their kids about bullies. Creating a safe and trusting environment for a child is key. They must feel as though they are not alone and that someone cares.
This site also states that building a bully free school zone starts in the community and works its way through the school system. This system includes training community leaders to organize and implement ideas to create more eyes on kids. It encourages everyone to step in if they witness bullying.
Having the school actively involved in bully prevention may be the most important aspect of all. On our local school’s website, midlandps.org, bullying is addressed first and foremost. It clearly states that bullying, without exception, will not be tolerated and that all members of school staff will be observant and stop any form of bullying at any time.
Prevention is key, but not always effective. It is best to talk to your children about what may happen to them and make sure they feel loved and comfortable coming to you or going to another adult if bullying does occur.