Child bullying has existed in neighborhoods and schools for centuries. This article contains statistics on child bullying, signs your child may be being bullied, signs your child may be a bully, and tips on how to combat and prevent child bullying.
One of the unfortunate experiences that marks many childhoods is bullying. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, close to half of all children will experience school bullying at some point while they are at primary or secondary school. At least 10 percent of children are bullied regularly. Child bullying is a serious problem in schools around the country, and it can be very harmful, long term, to children. Child bullying teaches them to take a certain view of what is normal in relationships with other people, and it can also damage their own self-image in ways that can affect them for life. Children who are bullied can be stunted emotionally and socially, as well as see their schoolwork suffer. In some cases, serious depression and attempted suicide can result from childhood bulliing.
What is child bullying?
Bullying is defined as “an intentional course of conduct which is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, threaten or intimidate another person and which serves no legitimate purpose.
Bullying is basically a form of intimidation or domination toward someone who is perceived as being weaker. It is a way of getting what one wants through some sort of coercion or force. It is also a way for someone to establish some sort of perceived superiority over another person. There are different types of bullying. While some may think that bullying mainly consists only of physical domination, the fact of the matter is that there are verbal and emotional forms of bullying as well. And, with the rise of the Internet, there are now instances of children being bullied online through email, chatrooms and on Facebook. It is even possible to be bullied through text messaging on a cell phone. Chid bullying can happen in any of these forms.
For the most part, boys prefer to use physical intimidation tactics in their bullying. They will use physical aggression to force others to do what they want, or to feel in charge of a situation. Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to use the subtle methods of child bullying like verbal abuse. Girls are also more likely to be adept at emotional bullying by ostracizing their victims or finding some other way to make harass or belittle others.
Signs of child bullying
Many parents are concerned that their child might be a victim of a child bullying. Some of the signs that a child is being bullied include:
- Becoming withdrawn
- Showing fear when it is time to go to school
- Increasing signs of depression
- Decline in school performance
- Speaking of another child with fear
- Noticeable decline in how the child sees him or herself
- Signs of physical altercations, such as bruises, scrapes and other marks
It may be more difficult to spot signs of verbal or emotional bullying, but you should be on the lookout for indications that your child’s self esteem and self image are faltering, as well as a reluctance to go to school.
You should also be on the alert for signs that your child is a bully. Child bullying behavior can be a precursor to problems later in life, especially criminal activity. It can also affect future professional and personal relationships. It is important that children learn to express themselves in socially acceptable ways, and bullying is not something that most in society tolerate. Here are some signs that your child might be a bully:
- Views violence positively as the solution to most problems
- Shows aggression toward adults as well as other children
- Need to dominate others and control situations
- Easily frustrated
- Shows little sympathy to others who are being bullied, or who are having problems
- Won’t help stop bullying
Parents and other adults can play an important roll in the reduction of child bullying. It is important to notice what is going on with your children, and watch for signs that he or she is being bullied, or that he or she is a bully. In both cases, it can be a good idea to talk to your child’s school authorities, as well as a child counselor or pediatrician to figure out a plan. Bullies need to learn why they behave the way they do, and what they can change so that they are showing more acceptable behaviors.
You can also help your bullied child feel safer and develop a plan to help avoid child bullies. First of all, it is a good idea to listen, and be accepting. Let your child know that you are on his or her side, and that the bullying isn’t their fault. Here are some things you can suggest to your child:
- That you go, together, to school authorities to see what can be done in terms of mediation, and in terms of increased attention paid on the school grounds.
- Encourage the child to avoid the child bully, and seek help from a teacher or trusted adult when necessary.
- Practice being assertive and asking the bully to leave the child alone.
- Encourage your child to be with true friends – bullies are less likely to pick on children who are in a group.
In the end, it is important to help combat child bullying and make schools safe places to learn.