Learn the early warning signs of bullying
WAKE FOREST — Children grow and develop their personalities in various ways. While many youngsters are teased or receive some good-natured ribbing at some point in their school careers, some teasing can eventually turn into bullying.
The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Furthermore, more than 70 percent of students report incidents of bullying at their schools. Although children in lower grades have reported being in more fights than those in higher grades, there is a higher rate of violent crimes in middle and high schools than in elementary schools. According to the association Make Beats Not Beat Downs, harassment and bullying have been linked to 75 percent of school shooting incidents.
Bullying can take many forms, and learning the warning signs as a parent can help prevent harassment and potentially dangerous situations.
Verbal: If your child reports being called names, being the recipient of racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, or being spoken to in an offensive or suggestive way, this can be a form of verbal bullying.
Cyber: Social media, email and text messaging has become a way for bullies to spread malicious messages or photos. In the era of digital media, this type of bullying has increased considerably.
Physical: Some bullies engage in physical attacks, including hitting, kicking, spitting, or other forms of physical confrontation. Destroying personal property also is considered physical bullying.
Indirect: Gossiping and spreading nasty rumors about a person is another form of bullying. This type of bullying may go hand-in-hand with cyber bullying.
Signs your child is being bullied
Parents can recognize certain signs that their child is being bullied at school. Bullied children frequently make excuses to avoid going to school. While the desire to stay home is something many children may express, those who are bullied may do so much more frequently. Bullied children tend to avoid certain places and may be sad, angry, withdrawn, or depressed. They may have trouble sleeping or experience changes in appetite, and bullied youngsters' academic performance may suffer. Also, parents may notice that children return from school missing some of their belongings.
Signs your child is the bully
Parents may not want to imagine their children bullying other students, but bullies do exist. Children who bully other kids have strong needs for power and negative dominance. They may find satisfaction in causing suffering to others. Some signs that your child may be a bully include:
•easily becoming violent with others
•having friends who bully others
•blaming others quickly
•comes home with belongings that do not belong to him or her
•getting in trouble with teachers or school administrators
•picking on siblings
•not accepting responsibility for actions
There are ways parents can teach their children to act properly when faced with a bully. First, parents should explain that bullying is not the child's fault and he or she does not deserve to be picked on. Next, parents can let children know that being assertive but not violent with bullies may diffuse the situation, as some bullies thrive on the fear of their victims. If the bullying behavior continues, the student should speak to an adult or authority figure.
Parents of bullies may need to be especially mindful of their children's behavior. Counseling could be necessary to determine what is compelling kids to bully other students.