This is an o.k. guide to the realities of bullying amongs children and teens. I have some major disagreements with some of the "solutions" they propose (in particular, when a child is facing immediate assault, not fighitng back in order to escape and get to safety is potentially suicidal; I have marked the advise I do not agree with with a *), but this is a good place to start. - Sensei Lewis.
1. Bullying is the same thing as conflict.
Wrong. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Often, bullying is repeated over time. Conflict involves antagonism among two or more people. Whereas any two people can have a conflict (or a disagreement or a fight), bullying only occurs where there is a power imbalance—where one child has a hard time defending himself or herself. Why is the difference between bullying and conflict important?
Conflict resolution or mediation strategies are sometimes misused to solve bullying problems. These strategies can send the message that both children are “partly right and partly wrong,” or that, “We need to work out the conflict between you.”
These messages are not appropriate messages in cases of bullying (or in any situation where someone is being victimized). The appropriate message to the child who is bullied should be, “Bullying is wrong and no one deserves to be bullied. We are going to do everything we can to stop it.”
For more information, see the tip sheet entitled, “Misdirections in Bullying Prevention and Intervention.”
What does work? Research suggests that the best way to deal with bullying is through comprehensive programs that focus on changing the climate of a school and the social norms of the group. For more
information, see the tip sheet entitled, “Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and Intervention.”
2. Most bullying is physical (involves hitting, shoving, kicking).
Physical bullying may be what first comes to mind when adults think about bullying. However, the
most common form of bullying—both for boys and girls—is verbal bullying (e.g., name-calling, rumorspreading). It is also common for youth to bully each other through social isolation (e.g., shunning
or leaving a child out on purpose).
3. Bullying isn’t serious. It’s just a matter of “kids being kids.”
Bullying can be extremely serious. Bullying can affect the mental well being, academic work, and physical health of children who are targeted. Children who are bullied are more likely than other children to have lower self-esteem; and higher rates of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. They also are more likely to want to avoid attending school and have higher school absenteeism rates. Recent research on the health-related effects of bullying indicates that victims of frequent bullying are more likely to experience headaches, sleeping problems, and stomach ailments.
Some emotional scars can be long-lasting. Research suggests that adults who were bullied as children are more likely than their non-bullied peers to be depressed and have low self-esteem as adults. Children who bully are more likely than other children to be engaged in other antisocial, violent, or troubling behaviors. Bullying can negatively affect children who observe bullying going on around them–even if they aren't targeted themselves. For more information, visit “Why Should Adults Care About Bullying?” These and other materials are available online at: www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov
4. Bullying doesn’t happen at my child’s school.
Bullying is more common at some schools than others, however it can happen anywhere children and youth gather. Studies show that between 15-25% of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency ("sometimes or more often") while 15-20% admit that they bully others with some frequency within a school term. The best way to find out about bullying at your child’s school is to ask children and youth, themselves. One good way to do this is by administering an anonymous survey about where bullying occurs, when it occurs, and how often it occurs.
5. Bullying is mostly a problem in urban schools.
Bullying occurs in rural, suburban, and urban communities, and among children of every income level, race, and geographic region.
7. Bullying is more likely to happen on the bus than at school.
Although bullying does happen on the bus, most surveys indicate that bullying is more likely to occur on
school grounds. Common locations for bullying include playgrounds, the classroom, the cafeteria, bathrooms, and hallways. A student survey can help determine where the hotspots are in any particular school.
6. Children and youth who are bullied will almost always tell an adult.
Adults are often unaware of bullying—in part because many children and youth don't report it.
Most studies find that only 25%-50% of bullied children talk to an adult about the bullying. Boys and
older children are less likely than girls and younger children to tell adults about bullying.Why are
children reluctant to report bullying? They may fear retaliation by children doing the bullying. They also
may fear that adults won't take their concerns seriously or will deal inappropriately with the bullying situation.
8. Children and youth who bully are mostly loners with few social skills.
Children who bully usually do not lack friends. In fact, some research finds that they have larger friendship networks than other children. Importantly, they usually have at least a small group of friends who support and encourage their bullying behavior. Bullies also generally have more leadership skills than victims of bullying or children not involved in bullying.
9. Bullied kids need to learn how to deal with bullying on their own.
Some children have the confidence and skills to stop bullying when it happens, but many do not. Moreover, children shouldn’t be expected to deal with bullying on their own. Bullying is a form of victimization or peer abuse. Just as society does not expect victims of other types of abuse (e.g., child maltreatment or domestic abuse) to “deal with it on their own,”we should not expect this from victims of bullying.
Adults have critical roles to play in helping to stop bullying, as do other children who witness or observe bullying. To learn more about what you can do to help, visit http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adult/indexAdult.asp?Area=teacherscorner
10. Most children and youth who observe bullying don’t want to get involved.
The good news is that most children and youth think that bullying is “not cool” and feel that they should do something if they see it happen. In a recent study of tweens, (Brown, Birch, & Kancherla, 2005), 56% said that they usually either say or do something to try to stop bullying that they observe or tell someone who could help. These children and youth play a critical role in helping stop bullying in schools and communities.
What Should I Do If I'm Bullied?
What is bullying?
Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose. The person being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Ususally, bullying happens over and over. Sometimes bullying is easy to notice, such as with hitting or name calling, and other times it's hard to see, like with leaving a person out or saying mean things behind someone's back. Both boys and girls bully, and both boys and girls get bullied. Bullying is not fair, and it hurts.
How to deal with bullying:
•Tell your parents or other trusted adults. They can help stop the bullying.
•If you are bullied at school, tell your teacher, school counselor, or principal. Telling is not tattling.
•Don't fight back. Don't try to bully those who bully you.*
•Try not to show anger or fear. Students who bully like to see that they can upset you.
•Calmly tell the student to stop...or say nothing and then walk away.
•Use humor, if this is easy for you to do. (For example, if a student makes fun of your clothing, laugh and say, “Yeah, I think this shirt is kind of funny-looking, too.”)*
•Try to avoid situations in which bullying is likely to happen. You might want to avoid areas of the school where there are not many students or teachers around.
•Make sure you aren't alone in the bathroom or locker room.
•Sit near the front of the bus.
•Don't bring expensive things or lots of money to school.
•Sit with a group of friends at lunch.
•Take a different route through hallways or walk with friends or a teacher to your classes.