The topic of bullying and what to do about it has come up a few times lately. See the recent posts on the blog Clara's Clearing and these news items: US, UK.
Here are excerpts from a very useful document, Take Action Against Bullying, by the National Mental Health Information Center of US Department of Health and Human Services.
Every day in our schools and communities, children are teased, threatened, or tormented by bullies. Bullying is a problem that creates a climate of fear, that affects the whole school, and in some cases, the entire community. When we fail to recognize and stop bullying behavior as it occurs, we actually promote violence. We are saying to the bully, “You have the right to hurt people,” and to the victim, “You are not worth protecting.” Safe schools are everyone’s responsibility and everyone can help keep our schools safe.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
Bullying involves repeated acts of physical, emotional, or social behavior that are intentional, controlling, and hurtful. Bullying is a learned behavior, evident as early as two years of age. Bullying can be either direct or indirect. Direct bullying usually is seen and felt readily. Indirect bullying (deliberate exclusion, name calling, etc.) is much more difficult to identify, often is more difficult to remedy, and should be clearly seen as different from direct bullying. Boys are more typically engaged in direct bullying and girls in indirect bullying, but that is not always the case. Just be alert and consider the following:
--Bullying is defined by a power imbalance between the bully and the target.
--A bully's power can be derived from physical size, strength, verbal skill, popularity, or gender.
--A bully's target feels tormented, helpless, and defenseless.
--Bullying can include hitting, name-calling, threatening, intimidating, kicking, spreading rumors, teasing, pushing, tripping, excluding someone from a group, or destroying someone's things.
IS YOUR CHILD BEING BULLIED?
If your child exhibits one or more of these warning signs, he/she may be a victim of bullying. Talk with your child to explore further whether or not he/she is being bullied.
A child being bullied often:
--Withdraws socially; has few or no friends.
--Feels isolated, alone and sad.
--Feels picked on or persecuted.
--Feels rejected and not liked.
--Frequently complains of illness.
--Doesn't want to go to school; avoids some classes or skips school.
--Brings home damaged possessions or reports them “lost.”
--Cries easily; displays mood swings and talks about hopelessness.
--Has poor social skills.
--Talks about running away; talks of suicide.
--Threatens violence to self and others.
--Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
--Takes, or attempts to take, “protection” to school (a stick, knife, gun, etc.).
--Displays “victim” body language—hangs head, hunches shoulders, avoids eye contact.
IF YOU THINK YOUR CHILD IS A BULLY
--Be sure that your child knows that bullying is NOT acceptable behavior.
--Tell your child the penalties for bullying and be sure that you enforce them fairly and consistently.
--Help your child learn alternative ways to deal with anger and frustration.
--Teach and reward more appropriate behavior.
--Work out a way for your child to make amends for the bullying.
--Help your child develop an understanding of the impact of their bullying on the target.
--Seek help or counseling if the behavior continues.
--If contacted by the school, STAY CALM; TRY NOT TO BECOME ANGRY AND DEFENSIVE! Make yourself really listen. --Remember this is ultimately about the well-being of your child!
BULLYING PREVENTION PROGRAMS
When developing and implementing bullying prevention programs, be sure to include the following steps:
--Increase the awareness of everyone at school (students, staff and parents) toward bullying problems.
--Assess the scope of the problem.
--Identify both the children who are bullying and the children who are being bullied.
--Intervene in a timely manner with clear and consistent consequences for the child who is bullying andwith support and protection for the child who is being bullied.
--Encourage by-standers to intervene appropriately to help stop the bullying.
--Reward pro-social behavior of all students.
Stop Bullying Now!
Very useful resource for kids and adults:
Take Action Against Bullying:
American Psychological Association, Bullying: