What is Bullying?
Bullying can mean many different things.These are some ways children and young people have described bullying:
- being called names
- being teased
- being pushed or pulled about
- having money and other possessions taken or messed about with
- having rumors spread about you
- being ignored and left out
- being hit, kicked or physically hurt in any way
- being threatened or intimidated
Bullying can also be part of other forms of abuse, including neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Why am I being bullied?
People can be bullied for all sorts of reasons or no particular reason at all. Sometimes people who bully others pick up on a small thing that makes someone stand out and they use it to hurt them. This might be the way someone looks, the things they like doing or even what kinds of clothes they wear.
Everyone is different, and it’s these differences that make people who they are. If you are being bullied in person or online, then you might think that it’s your fault – it isn’t.
Different kinds of bullying:
- Homophobic – Bullying someone because they are a different sexual orientation from you. Saying that someone is ‘gay’ or using words like ‘gay’ as an insult.
- Racist – Treating people differently because of their race, the color of their skin, where they are from or what they believe in and using offensive words that describe race to bully people.
- Sexist – Treating people differently based on whether they are female or male. For example, thinking that boys are better than girls.
- Disabilist – treating someone differently if they are disabled, or using offensive language to describe people who are disabled and using this to bully people.
- Lookist – Bullying someone because they look different such as if they have ginger hair or wear glasses.
- Classist – Deciding that someone is from a particular social class – usually if they are seen as being rich or poor – and bullying them because of this. For example, calling somebody a, ‘chav’ or, ‘snob’.
How can using words to bully you make you feel?
Words might not physically hurt you, but they can stay with you for a long time and make you feel bad. Using words and language to bully people is a form of emotional abuse. If you are being called names or someone calling you names it can make you feel scared, anxious, lonely and sad. In extreme cases, being bullied might make some young people want to withdraw and may cause problems with school and family relationships. It may also lead to young people self-harming or finding other ways to let their feelings out.
Bullying Is a Big Problem
Every day thousands of teens wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end. Yet because parents, teachers, and other adults don’t always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.
Why is it important to stop bullying?
Bullying is a serious problem for all children involved. Kids who are bullied are more likely to feel bad about themselves and be depressed. They may fear or lose interest in going to school. Sometimes they take extreme measures, which can lead to tragic results. They may carry weapons, use violence to get revenge, or try to harm themselves. Kids who bully others are more likely to drop out of school, have drug and alcohol problems, and break the law.
What are the traits of children who bully?
Children who bully are often physically strong. They may bully because they like the feeling of power. They may be kids who do things without thinking first and may not follow rules. These boys and girls have not learned to think about the feelings of other people. Kids who physically bully others sometimes come from homes where adults fight or hurt each other. They may pick on other kids because they have been bullied themselves. Children who bully need counseling, It can help them understand why they act as they do. And it can teach them how to interact with others in more positive ways. Family counseling is especially helpful for these children.
How do children who are bullied act?
Children who are bullied are often quiet and shy. They may have few friends and find it hard to stand up for themselves. They may begin to think that they deserve the abuse.
What can children do if they are bullied?
Children are often scared and angry when they are bullied. They may not know what to do. Teach them to:
- Talk back. Say, “Leave me alone,” or “You don’t scare me.” Have your child practice saying this in a calm, strong voice.
- Walk away. Don’t run, even if you are afraid.
- Tell an adult. A parent or teacher can then take steps to stop the bullying.
What can you do to stop bullying?
Bullying can be stopped if people pay attention and take action. Bullying most often occurs in school, and it is most common in schools where students are not well supervised. If bullying is happening at your child’s school, talk to the principal or vice principal. Urge the school to adopt a no-bullying policy. All children should know that those who bully will be punished. Children who are bullied should be supported and protected.
As a parent, you can help your child get involved in new hobbies or groups, such as school clubs or church youth groups. Being part of a group can help reduce bullying. Having friends can help a child have a better self-image.
Kids can help keep other kids from being bullied. If you are a kid, don’t let yourself be part of the problem… speak up when you see someone else being picked on. It can help to say something like, “Cut it out. That’s not funny.” If this is too hard or scary to do, walk away and tell an adult.BACK TO TOP
10 Things You Can Do To Eliminate Bullying
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- Talk with and listen to your kids—everyday. Research shows that adults are often the last to know when children are bullied or bully others. You can encourage your children to buck that trend by engaging in frequent conversations about their social lives. Spend a few minutes every day asking open ended questions about who they spend time with at school and in the neighborhood, what they do in between classes and at recess, who they have lunch with, or what happens on the way to and from school. If your children feel comfortable talking to you about their peers before they’re involved in a bullying event, they’ll be much more likely to get you involved after.
- Spend time at school and recess. Research shows that 67% of bullying happens when adults are not present. Schools don’t have the resources to do it all and need parents’ help in reducing bullying. Whether you can volunteer once a week or once a month, you can make a real difference just by being present and helping to organize games and activities that encourage kids to play with new friends. Be sure to coordinate your on-campus volunteer time with your child’s teacher and/or principal.
- Be a good example of kindness and leadership. Your kids learn a lot about power relationships from watching you. When you get angry at a waiter, a sales clerk, another driver on the road, or even your child, you have a great opportunity to model effective communication techniques. Don’t blow it by blowing your top! Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is OK.
- Learn the signs. Most children don’t tell anyone (especially adults) that they’ve been bullied. It is therefore important for parents and teachers to learn to recognize possible signs of being victimized, such as frequent loss of personal belongings, complaints of headaches or stomachaches, avoiding recess or school activities, and getting to school very late or very early. If you suspect that a child might be being bullied, talk with the child’s teacher or find ways to observe his peer interactions to determine whether or not your suspicions might be correct. Talk directly to your child about what is going on at school.
- Create healthy anti-bullying habits early. Help develop anti-bullying and anti-victimization habits early in your children—as early as preschool and kindergarten. Coach your children on whatnot to do—hitting, pushing, teasing, “saying na-na-na-na-na,” or being mean to others. Help your child to focus on how such actions might feel to the child on the receiving end (e.g., “How do you think you would feel if that happened to you?”). Such strategies can enhance empathy for others. Equally if not more important, teach your children what to do—kindness, empathy, fair play, and turn-taking are critical skills for good peer relations. Children also need to learn how to say “no” firmly if they experience or witness bullying behavior. Coach your child about what to do if other kids are mean—get an adult right away, tell the child who is teasing or bullying to “stop,” walk away, ignore the bully and find someone else to play with. It may help to role play what to do with your child. And repetition helps: go over these techniques periodically with your kindergarten and early elementary school aged children.
- Help your child’s school address bullying effectively. Whether your children have been bullied or not, you should know what their school is doing to address bullying. Research shows that “zero-tolerance” policies aren’t effective. What works better are ongoing educational programs that help create a healthy social climate in the school. This means teaching kids at every grade level how to be inclusive leaders and how to be empathic towards others and teaching victims effective resistance techniques. If your school does not have effective bullying strategies and policies in place, talk to the principal and advocate for change.
- Establish household rules about bullying. Your children need to hear from you explicitly that it’s not normal, OK, or tolerable for them to bully, to be bullied, or to stand by and just watch other kids be bullied. Make sure they know that if they are bullied physically, verbally, or socially (at school, by a sibling, in your neighborhood, or online) it’s safe and important for them to tell you about it—and that you will help. They also need to know just what bullying is (many children do not know that they are bullying others), and that such behavior is harmful to others and not acceptable. You can help your children find positive ways to exert their personal power, status, and leadership at school. Work with your child, their teachers, and their principal to implement a kindness plan at school.
- Teach your child how to be a good witness or positive bystander. Research shows that kids who witness bullying feel powerless and seldom intervene. However, kids who take action can have a powerful and positive effect on the situation. Although it’s never a child’s responsibility to put him or herself in danger, kids can often effectively diffuse a bullying situation by yelling “Stop! You’re bullying” or “Hey, that’s not cool.” Kids can also help each other by providing support to the victim, not giving extra attention to the bully, and/or reporting what they witnessed to an adult.
- Teach your child about cyberbullying. Children often do not realize what cyberbullying is. Cyberbullying includes sending mean, rude, vulgar, or threatening messages or images; posting sensitive, private information about another person; pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad; and intentionally excluding someone from an online group. These acts are as harmful as physical violence and must not be tolerated. We know from research that the more time a teen spends online, the more likely they are to be cyberbullied—so limit online time. There’s a simple litmus test you can teach your children about online posting: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face or you would not feel comfortable having your parents see it—don’t post it (or take it down now).
- Spread the word that bullying should not be a normal part of childhood. Some adults hesitate to act when they observe or hear about bullying because they think of bullying as a typical phase of childhood that must be endured or that it can help children “toughen up.” It is important for all adults to understand that bullying does not have to be a normal part of childhood. All forms of bullying are harmful to the perpetrator, the victim, and to witnesses and the effects last well into adulthood (and can include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, family violence and criminal behavior). Efforts to effectively address bullying require the collaboration of school, home, and community.Forward this list and articles you’ve read to all the parents, teachers, administrators, after-school care programs, camp counselors, and spiritual leaders you know. Bullying is a serious problem, but if we all work together, it’s one we can impact.
10 Actions Parents Can Take If Their Child Has Been Bullied
If someone sends you a mean email about another person, don’t forward it to others. Print it out and show it to an adult.
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- Make it safe for your child to talk to you. When your child comes to you to talk about a bullying experience, try to avoid having an emotional reaction. It can be scary for a child to hear that a parent is planning to lash out at a peer or parent. Calmly ask questions until you feel you completely understand the situation (Is it bullying, a peer conflict, or a misunderstanding?). Try not to leap into action right away, but instead focus on making sure your child feels taken care of and supported. Without blaming the bully, remind your kid that everyone has a right to feel safe and happy at school, and applaud the courage it took to take a stand and talk to you. Make a commitment to work with both your child and the school administration to resolve the issue.
- Teach your child to say “Stop!” or go find an adult. Research shows that most bullies stop aggressive behavior within 10 seconds, when someone (either a victim or a bystander) tells the perpetrator to stop in a strong and powerful voice. You, as the parent, can role-play an assertive response. Demonstrate the differences between aggressive and assertive and passive voices, as well as body language, tone of voice, and words used. If staying “stop” with an assertive voice does not work, teach your child to find an adult right away.
- Talk with your child’s principal and classroom teacher about the situation. Make it clear that you are committed to partner with the school in being part of the solution. Also emphasize that your expected outcome is that your child’s ability to feel safe and happy at school is fully restored. Ask the principal to share the school’s bullying policy, and make sure any action plan begins with notifying other teachers, recess aids, hallway monitors, and cafeteria staff so that everyone who comes in contact with your child can be on the lookout and poised to intervene should the bullying be repeated.
- Arrange opportunities for your child to socialize with friends outside of school to help build and maintain a strong support system. Try reaching out to neighborhood parents, local community centers with after-school activities, and your spiritual community. The more time your child can practice social skills in a safe environment, the better. Children who have friends are less likely to be bullying victims—and, if your child is bullied, friends can help ease the negative effects.
- Don’t go it alone. When supporting a child through a bullying situation, parents often discover previously unnoticed issues that may contribute to the child’s vulnerability. In addition to working with the school to help resolve the immediate issue, parents should also consider reaching out to physical and mental healthcare providers to discuss concerns about diagnosed or undiagnosed learning issues, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.
- Encourage your child to stick with a friend (or find someone that can act as a buddy) at recess, lunch, in the hallways, on the bus, or walking home. Kids are more likely to be targeted when they are alone. If your child doesn’t have a friend to connect with, work with the school to help find someone to act as a safety partner.
- If cyber-bullying is an issue, teach your child to bring it to the attention of an adult, rather than responding to the message. Many children fail to realize that saying mean things about someone on the Internet or through text messaging is a form of bullying. Make sure your child knows that you take cyber-bullying seriously, and that you’ll be supportive through the process of handling the situation.
- Help your child become more resilient to bullying. There’s a lot parents can do to help “bully proof” their kids. Here are two biggies: first, provide a safe and loving home environment where compassionate and respectful behavior is modeled consistently. Second, acknowledge and help your child to develop strengths, skills, talents or other positive characteristics. Doing so may help your kid be more confident among peers at school.
- Provide daily and ongoing support to your child by listening and maintaining ongoing lines of communication. When your child expresses negative emotions about peers, it’s helpful if you acknowledge these feelings and emphasize that it’s normal to feel this way. After actively listening to the recounted bullying incident, discuss the practical strategies in this article together, especially the ones your child thinks will be most helpful.
- Follow Up. Even after your child’s bullying situation has been resolved, be sure to stay in touch with your child and the school to avoid a relapse of the issues. Keep the lines of communication open with your child, and learn the signs of bullying so that if another issue arises, you’ll be prepared to get involved early and effectively. Although a last resort, consider moving your child out of the current school or social environment. This may be a necessary action, and it sends the message that your child truly does not have to tolerate such treatment. Once established, social reputations among peers can be very difficult to eliminate. A fresh start in a new school environment may be a viable solution.
10 Actions Parents Can Take if Their Child is Bullying Others
- Have an honest and firm conversation with your child. Many children don’t fully understand that what they are doing is bullying and this it is not OK. They may have seen similar behavior in adults, their peers, or on television. Your child needs to hear from you explicitly that it’s not normal, OK, or tolerable to bully, to be bullied, or to watch other kids be bullied. Kids need to understand that when they bully their peers, they are doing harm not only to those victims, but also to kids who witness their actions—and even to themselves. Children who repeatedly bully others tend to end up as adults having increased depression, anger, and conflict with other adults—and are more likely to be convicted of a crime. Your child needs your love and care to get back on track.
- Make a commitment to help your child find healthy ways to resolve conflict and to stop bullying others. Start by determining why your child is bullying: is it the draw of social power or status? Or perhaps, a natural temperament that needs more adult regulation, or a case of copying peers? Is it possible your kid’s being bullied by others, and is lashing out with pro-active behavior to try to keep from getting bullied? A teacher, counselor or mental health professional may be able to help with this process. Once you get a handle on why the bullying is occurring, you can then help your child come up with alternate behaviors or ideas to gain leadership and “social status” that don’t involve excluding others or physical and verbal bullying. Provide specific examples from your own experience or from carefully screened books and media. Support your child’s efforts to communicate the plan and ideas to teachers and administrators and to implement the plan at school.
- Schedule an appointment to talk with school staff including your child’s teacher(s) and the school counselor. Share your concerns. Work together to send clear messages to your child that bullying won’t be accepted at home or at school and must stop. Set up a hierarchy of clear consequences that do not involve punishment, but rather actions of apology and new respect towards kids who were bullied. Let your child know that acting with respect and kindness towards others is the true form of power. Always have these conversations modeling calm, gentle and loving ways of speaking.
- Develop clear and consistent family rules for behavior and follow through on your child’s compliance to those rules.Your child needs to know the specific behaviors you expect. Praise and reward the kids who follow rules. Establish appropriate consequences that are not physical or hostile if your child’s actions or behavior fails to meet expectations. Remember, saying nothing sends the message that what your child’s doing is OK.
- Monitor your child’s behavior at home closely. Immediately and calmly stop any acts of aggression you see against siblings or other children in your home, and talk about other ways your child can deal with sticky situations. Guide your child toward respectful and kind actions within your home environment on a consistent basis.
- Your behavior teaches your children how to behave. Take an honest look at your interactions with other adults inside and outside your home. Work to make changes if your children aren’t learning to treat each other with respect by watching you. Do your best to model respectful, kind and empathetic communication and avoid aggressive, intimidating and abusive behaviors—even during disagreements.
- Spend time getting to know your child. Talk about how your kid prefers to spend free time—who does he or she spend time with? What activities are they involved in? If the circle of friends concerns you, work together to help direct your child to a better environment—one that builds on healthy interests and talents. School clubs, music lessons and sports can be great outlets.
- Be realistic and patient. Don’t expect any behavior to change overnight. Support your child’s efforts to improve, and be there every step of the journey. Keep lines of communication open so your kid has a sounding board, and someone to trust and confide in. Practice role-playing, where you take on the role of children being bullied, and have your child practice talking it out. You can make suggestions for both word choice and tone of voice.
- Continue to work and communicate with school staff for as long as it takes. They should be your allies. If you’re not receiving the support and attention your situation requires, escalate the issue through the school and district administration channels.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While there’s unfortunately not a shot or pill to end bullying behavior in kids, your child’s pediatrician can support you in a lot of ways—including making a referral to a mental health professional and other resources available in your community.
Cyber-bullying is when a person or a group of people uses the internet, mobile phones, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else.
Here are some examples:
- Sending mean texts or IMs
- Pranking someone’s cell phone
- Hacking into someone’s gaming or social networking profile
- Being rude or mean to someone in an online game
- Spreading secrets or rumors about people online
- Pretending to be someone else to spread hurtful messages online
What makes cyber-bullying different from other types of bullying?
Cyber-bullying is a form of bullying but because it happens online or on mobile phones it can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- It’s harder to get away from cyber-bullying – it can happen anytime you have your phone or are at your computer. If you are being bullied at school you can usually get away from the bullies when you are at home but with cyber-bullying it can feel like there is no escape.
- Cyber-bullying can be done anonymously. For example, they might set up fake accounts and hide their IP address or block their mobile number.
- When bullying happens at school it is usually one person or a small group of people. Cyber-bullying can be really scary as it could involve a lot more people – you might feel that people ganging up on you.
- It’s easy for people to hide who they are online, so you might not know who is bothering you.
- It’s easier for kids to be mean when they can’t see the hurt they are causing.
How to protect yourself from cyber-bullying
- Keep your passwords private, even from your friends.
- Use a nickname that’s different from your real name.
- Don’t accept friend invites from strangers.
- Set up your profile to make sure that only friends can see it.
I’m being cyber-bullied. What should I do?
- Stop… You might feel like being mean back, but it’s better not to. Take a breath and count to ten.
- Save… If it’s a text or email don’t delete it. If you’re on a gaming or social site, take a screen shot. Having a copy of it will help you prove what has happened.
- Tell… It’s important to tell someone you trust what’s happening. Report online abuse to the site. If your safety is being threatened, get an adult to help you contact the police.
- Block… Block the person who is bullying you (you can get an adult or an older sibling to help you if you don’t know how).
- Remember… It’s not your fault!
Have you seen cyber-bullying?
- If you see cyber-bullying, tell someone!
- If you know someone who is being cyber-bullied, show them this page!
How to block people who cyber-bully
Cell Blocking You don’t have to take upsetting calls or texts:
- If the message is from someone you know, go to your Menu and find the person in your Contacts.
- Hit Block.
- If you get a hurtful text from a stranger, don’t write back. Save it.
- If you have the text message open, go to your Menu. You might find Block in your Options.
- If you don’t see Block, call your cell provider and ask how to block a sender.
- If you can’t block numbers from your phone, save unwanted callers as “Do Not Answer.”
Email Blocking Make it hard for bullies to find their way into your inbox:
- Click on the message in your inbox and select Spam or Junk Mail
- When the message is open, select Block Sender or Junk from the Options menu
- Go to your Options from your social networking homepage
- Look for “profile settings” or “security settings”
- Change your security settings on social networking pages (Facebook, MySpace), so that only people in your friends or contacts can send you messages. Go to your Options from your homepage to make changes to your settings.
Website Blocking You don’t have to take abuse online or anywhere else:
- Contact the Host Administrator. If you don’t know who the Host is (such as Blogger), check the top of the website’s homepage. Look for a link that says Contact or Contact Us.
- Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and explain what’s happening. If you’re not sure who you’re ISP is, look around your home for a phone or cable bill—you probably get Internet services from the same place
Forum Blocking Don’t let people who cyber bully bug you in chat rooms or online forums:
- Go to Report Abuse or Ignore. These tabs should appear at the top or bottom of the screen when you are in the forum or chat room.
- Try contacting the forum administrator to report abuse.
Worried about a friend?
If one of your friends is having problems, it can make you unhappy too. If you are worried about someone, it can help to talk to someone about it. Here you’ll find advice about how to help a friend in different situations.
I’m worried about one of my friends, what can I do?
- Try and talk to your friend and ask
them to tell you what is wrong.
- Don’t be upset if they don’t want to talk to you. It might be very difficult for them to speak about what is wrong, especially if they are scared or worried about what will happen if they do talk.
- If they don’t want to talk to you, suggest that they talk to a teacher or someone else they trust, about what is happening.
- If you think your friend might be in danger or are really worried about them, you could tell an appropriate adult, such as a parent or teacher, about the problem, even if your friend doesn’t want to talk to anyone.