Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bullying: Every Child and Parent’s Nightmare

Reports of children being bullied by classmates, peers and others to the point where such children may be considering suicide is a nightmare scenario and should certainly give all parents pause and concern. This is just one reason, among many, that the bullying problem needs to be addressed.

In today’s society, bullies may come in all shapes and sizes and some remain invisible, cloaked behind a computer screen. Cyber bullying has become commonplace in the age of social media. Demeaning and hurtful messages and gossip are often sent via text messages or posted on Facebook or other social media pages. In addition, bullying seems to be a silent epidemic. Targets of bullying are often afraid to talk about it or tell anyone who could help for fear of exacerbating the bullying. Not enough children stand up for those being bullied because they fear becoming a target themselves.

Children know bullying when they experience it or witness it. Parents and teachers, however, don’t always have a clear picture of just what bullying looks like. In order to intervene, parents and schools need to have a clear definition of the kinds of behaviors that constitute bullying.

The U.S. Department of Education's definition of bullying is clearly stated below:

•Bullying is deliberate. The bully wants to hurt someone. Bullying is usually repeated, with the bully targeting the same victim again and again. The bully takes advantage of an imbalance of power by picking victims he or she believes are vulnerable.

•Bullying can occur through physical, verbal or relational means where bullies try to destroy their victim's relationships through vicious rumors and social exclusion.

•Bullying often occurs in groups and teachers, parents and peers of students being bullied should be encouraged to expose such behavior.

•Students should learn to be assertive and "stand up to bullying" without resorting to violence.

There are times when punishment has to be handed out, but parents, teachers, principals, and counselors should also try to get to the core of why a child is bullying. Efforts should be made, not only to protect the victim, but also to help rehabilitate as well as punish the bully, as the case might require.

Picture credit: sanja gjenero

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