The fear attending school faces many students who are beginning g a new year of school. They have experienced being bullied and do not look forward to seeing certain students. The Indiana Department of Education report there were 9000 reported case of bullying during last school year.
Although it always been around, bullying should never be accepted as normal behavior. The feelings experienced by victims of bullying a painful and lasting. Bullies, if not stopped, can progress to more serious behavior. Recent incidents of school violence show that bullying can have tragic consequences for individuals, families and communities.
Bullying is an aggressive behavior. A child is targeted by one or more youths with repeated negative actions over a period of time. These are intentional attempts to cause discomfort or injury and can include name calling, making faces, obscene gesturing, malicious teasing, threats rumors, physical hitting, kicking, pushing and chocking.
More subtle is simply excluding a child from a group. Generally bullying occurs when there is an imbalance of power favoring the bully. Victims usually feel they don’t have the strength to defend themselves. Make no-mistake, bullying is a form of violence that shouldn’t be tolerated.
The Journal of American Medical Association recently reported that one-third of U. S. students experience bullying, either as a target or a perpetrator. The National Parent Teacher Association report a high level of parents (47%) and teachers (77%) report children victimized bullies. Only a small percentage of children believe that telling adults will help according to Charach, Peppler and Ziegler. Children generally feel that adult intervention is ineffective and will only bring more harassment.
Bullies are both boys and girls Boys bully more often and more physically than girls. Girls are more likely to use rejection and slander. Bullies sometimes suffer from depression. They are often from homes where harsh punishment and inconsistent discipline are used.
Girls and boys alike are targeted. Those who are physically different in race, body size or clothing are targeted. Individual who have disabilities or those who are dealing with sexual orientation issues are also targeted. Both groups are kids who are typically anxious, insecure and suffering from low self-esteem.
Start early. Parent/child talks are critical. Teach kids to respect others before they start school and continue to talk about topics on an ongoing basis. Even small acts of teasing should be stopped in their tracks. Don’t fail to correct this kind of behavior due to child’s young age. This is exactly when to stop it.
Teach your children to be assertive. Encourage your children to express their feelings clearly, say no when they feel uncomfortable or pressured, stand up for themselves without fighting, and walk away in dangerous situations. Bullies are less likely to intimidate children who are confident and resourceful.
Stop bullying when you see it. Adults who remain silent when children are bullying others give permission to the behavior and thereby encourage it.
Tell your children to take action when they see bullying behavior. Tell them to speak out against the bully and inform a teacher if the behavior doesn’t stop. Bullying continues only when we allow it to.
Communicate clear policies and consequences. Bullying is less likely in school where adults are involved and firm about stopping bullying behaviors. Send out a clear message at your school that bullying will have negative consequences.
Team Up. Work with PTA or your local mental health association to make sure that schools treat bullying as violence. Help them develop programs to prevent bullying and promote safe school environments.