Bullying is aggressive behavior that is done to intentionally cause harm. Often this behavior is repeated over time and can take many forms such as:
- Teasing or name-calling
- Intimidation through gestures
- Social exclusion
- Exploitation by pictures or information using mobile phones or the internet (also known as cyberbullying).
About 25 percent of all students will experience some form of bullying. Unfortunately, this harmful behavior can go undetected by adults for many reasons:
- Bullying could be taking place in an area that is not well supervised by adults.
- Bullying can include subtle behaviors not noticed by adults.
- Children often don’t report bullying because they fear retaliation by the bully or are embarrassed to ask for help.
If you suspect your child is being bullied:
- Ask your child lots of questions and collect as much information as you can.
- Don’t blame the child by asking if he or she provoked the bullying or ask why he or she hasn’t told you before.
- If the situation is happening at school, contact your child's teacher and/or principal. Ask if anyone else has witnessed bullying towards your child.
- Do not contact the parents of the bullying child, as it may only further escalate the situation.
- Encourage your child to have a plan for where to go and who to talk to if a bullying situation arises.
- Do not encourage your child to use physical tactics to retaliate. Being physical could get him or her into trouble.
- Keep your own emotions under control. This helps your child learn to calmly manage difficult situations.
- Encourage your child to build self-esteem by joining groups, clubs, teams, and other activities. Your child’s teachers may have some ideas on activities that would be a good match for your child’s personality and interests.
- If your child is dealing with a special need or circumstance, such as hyperactivity or a learning disability, he or she may be more at risk for bullying. A counselor or special education teacher may be able to help the child fit in better with peers.
- Practice what you preach. Finding ways to promote a healthy and safe family life will give your child the break he or she needs from problems with peers.
For more information about helping your child with bullying, call SAFELine at 814-456-SAFE (7233).