• December 26, 2014

Battling bullies

Children, parents should understand the dangers of bullying

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Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 7:58 am, Mon Aug 5, 2013.

School will be starting soon and some students will be faced with continued or new bullying without the skills to stop it. Although it’s always been around, bullying should never be accepted as normal behavior. The feelings experienced by victims of bullying are painful and lasting. Bullies, if not stopped, can progress to more serious, antisocial behavior. Recent incidents of school violence show that bullying can have tragic consequences for individuals, families, schools, and entire communities.

Recognize It (for what it is)

Bullying is 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, choking and cyberbullying. More subtle is simply excluding a child from the group. Generally, bullying occurs when there’s 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.

See the Scope

• The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported that one-third of U.S. students experience bullying, either as a target or a perpetrator.

• A high level of parents (47 percent) and teachers (77 percent) report children victimized by bullies.

• Bullying and violence cause 160,000 fearful children to

miss one or more school days each month.

Spot the Bullies

• They are both boys and girls. Boys bully more often and more physically than girls. Girls are more likely to use rejection and slander.

• Bullies usually pick on others out of frustration with their own lives. They target others because they need a victim who is weaker than them.

• While they may feel uneasy about it, many children tease their peers simply to go along with the crowd.

• Bullies sometimes suffer from depression. They’re often from homes where harsh punishment and inconsistent discipline are used. Sixty percent of male bullies will be arrested by age 24.

Know Their Targets

• Girls and boys alike are targeted.

• Those who are physically different in race, body size or clothing. Those with disabilities or those who are dealing with sexual orientation issues. Both groups are kids who are typically anxious, insecure and suffering from low self-esteem. This makes them good targets.

• There are few differences among racial and ethnic groups in the numbers of students being bullied. White and black students are more likely to report it than others.

How to stop bullying

• Ignore the bully and walk away. Walk tall and hold your head up high. This type of body language sends a message that you’re not vulnerable. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get. If you’re in a situation where you can walk away, you can use humor to throw the bully off guard. Sooner or later the bully will probably get bored with trying to bully you.

• Don’t use physical force. You are more likely to get hurt and get into trouble if you use violence against a bully. Aggressive responses tend to lead to more violence and more bullying for the victims.

• Talk about it. Be assertive in your actions by speaking up, joining or starting an anti-bullying program in your school, talking to teachers, school counselors, adults, friends or anyone who can give you support.

• Take charge of your life. Think about ways to feel good about yourself. Hone your skills in something you like to do such as sports, chess, dancing, music, writing, joining a club or making new friends. The confidence you gain will help you ignore the mean kids.

• Report it. Bullying can often lead to life-threatening situations and silence gives the bully license to become more and more violent. Avoid being alone in areas that are potentially unsafe such as stairwells and courtyards that are not observed by staff. Walk with groups of students to classes and to your home after school.

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