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How To Stop Your Child From Bullying

Updated on March 23, 2011

Bullying is a learned behavior, a combination of aggression and power. By using aggression, bullies find they can get the power they want. The bully gains status and also a certain type of popularity, often fear based. Bullies quickly learn how to intimidate.

Although the reasons some children become bullies are not totally understood, we do know something about their possible origins. Bullies come from families where little affection and warmth are shown, and where physical punishment is common. Their lives are poorly monitored, and they often feel rejected. Bullies may have rigid, punitive parents. Bullies may also have been bullied themselves. 

Bullies choose as their victims those that appear to present easy targets, those that stand apart and are often neglected by others. However, this is only the general choice. Sometimes there is no apparent reason why a victim is chosen. If a bully can gain a support group, literally anyone can become a victim.

Although bullying can be present in any age group, it generally first appears in elementary school. It is estimated that about one in every five children are bullied to some extent during their school years.

The old idea was that bullying was an inevitable part of growing up, something we all experience and something we must learn to tolerate. This idea has changed. Bullying causes a myriad of results, all of them harmful. Bullying causes not just physical injury but also self-loathing, absenteeism, depression, bulimia, drug and alcohol abuse, mental breakdown, suicide, and death. Some victims lash out at others, perpetuating the practice. Bullying by boys tends to be more physical, hitting, punching, kicking, and tripping while girls tend to go for emotional bullying, gossiping, teasing, and excluding. One form is as damaging as the other. Why has this gone on so long?

Unfortunately, some parents take pride in their bullying child, their tough guy, the son who won't be pushed around, won't take anything from anybody, or the daughter who 'has a real mouth on her'. Bullying has also grown as, for some reason,"telling" has taken on only a negative connotation. Children must be taught the difference between telling because someone needs help, or simply tattling because they want to cause trouble. Parental indifference is another factor that has allowed the practice of bullying to become rampant.

Bullying causes damage not only to the victim, but to the aggressor, and to the witnesses. The bully learns that aggression and meanness are effective tools for gaining power. The victims suffers all the anxiety and other miseries mentioned above, and the witnesses, fearful of becoming the next victim join in, or keep a shameful silence.

Unfortunately, most bullying takes place when adults are not present. It is unrealistic to expect children to deal with these problems on their own. You must watch for any signs that your child or others are being bullied. Are they exhibiting an unreasonable number of cuts and bruises, torn clothing or schoolbooks. Are their grades dropping or are they avoiding school, playing sick, or choosing to stay indoors. If you see any of these signs, you must bring up the subject of bullying, talk to your child's teachers, principal, the school psychologist, anyone and everyone, until the problem is resolved. All the children and their parents involves must meet together with an experienced mediator to understand and solve the problem. This is not easy, especially if the bully's parents are uncooperative, but it is vital if your child is to grow up confident, and healthy in mind and spirit. Bullying is a serious and growing problem and must be addressed.

Bullying cannot be stopped by just a few concerned parents. The whole community must be involved. Parents must enlist the aid of other parents, to approach school authorities, community centers, churches, police and any other organizations that deal with children and youth.

If you see bullying in your own home, discuss it with the children involved. Let everyone tell their story and how they feel about what they have done or what has been done to them. Do not emphasize the laying of blame, but make sure that a solution is found in which the victim is compensated. A 'sorry' is not enough. Some minor privilege might be allotted. Children do not have to like one another but they must be taught to be kind and tolerant towards one another.

I once saw an excellent program dealing with bullying in a school where I volunteered. The school was in a poorer area with a lot of problems. The anti-bullying program was set up with the cooperation of the principal, teachers, and most parents. It was a program called "Zero Tolerance" There was to be no bullying of any kind anywhere on school grounds. Children where taught the difference between a 'put down' such as "Don't you know anything" and a 'put up' such as "That's hard. If you want, I'll help you with it." Each 'put down' had to be followed by two 'put-ups'. The first year of the program was pretty tough going but in the second year, things really got moving. The children seemed happier and there were more friendly exchanges. The ripple effect seemed to be moving outward. Reports of bullying became rare.

Parents need to take the victimization of children by other children seriously and work together with other parents, as well as school and community resources, to find workable and lasting solutions.

If you want to understand the terrible tole that bullying has taken, go to the site below.


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    • eye say profile image

      eye say 6 years ago from Canada

      great hub, great info ...

    • profile image

      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      What gets me about the issue is how the victim suffers for years and even decades. At nearly fifty years old I still feel somehow inadequate around people. Less real. This is the product of extensive bullying.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      An interesting insight into a hard subject to talk easily about and yet you diid a good job! Good Hub! The trick with a bully is to catch them out as soon as possible. WHen everyone in the area is on to that person, that bully has no choice but to move on, which happened in an office I used to work in. We laid a trap, and the bully fell for it. There was much rejoicing! Nice Hub!

    • Tyhill27 profile image

      Tyhill27 8 years ago from Red Deer, Alberta

      Interesting hub in our world of problems. In my opinion public schools the beginning of so many problems, right along with poor family life. I too experienced bulling at a young age, and struggled to fit into the popular crowd. I was favored by the teachers as a youngster, but turned to drugs and alcohol in high school. Our schools are filled with so much of it, I am thinking about private school when I have kids. Great hub!

    • kirstenblog profile image

      kirstenblog 8 years ago from London UK

      It is so refreshing to see the old, its a part of life toughen up attitude being abandoned! It is my feeling that bullying is pretty much abuse. Have suffered abuse at the hands of my step mom and bullying at school I can say that both were equally hard to heal and recover from. At least with child abuse its accepted as bad and bullying is not so clearly marked as bad but maybe we are getting there!

    • billips profile image

      billips 8 years ago from Central Texas

      That is pretty shocking but I know you're not exaggerating - I've seen how self-righteous some of these groups can be - I really hope the next generation will do better - B.

    • profile image

      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      Well, here in West Virginia any attempts to prevent the bashing of gay or gay-seeming kids is prohibited because local fundamentalist see it as promoting homosexuality. So, some attempts to stop bullying has been thwarted by the local Christian Tight. Apparently they see it as a matter of the victim getting what they deserve. Im really not exaggerating about this at all.

    • billips profile image

      billips 8 years ago from Central Texas

      It is not unusual at all for the victim to be blamed - some adults are just too spineless to step up to the plate and address the issue - I think one of the stories on the web site I mentioned, at the bottom of the article, talks about a principal, of all people, even saying the victim deserved what he got - I know there are teachers who just pretend they don't see bullying going on right under their noses - shameful! - we just have to take a stand against all cruelty and abuse whether it involves, children, adults, seniors, and animals - tough as it was, you managed to survive - I'm glad of that - B.

    • profile image

      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      Im not really sure what I can offer to this. I can say this, that the cruelty should always reflect on the bully and never the victim. I was often told if I didn't act like such a big sissy, then the kids would leave me along. Somehow I was to blame for my bullying and abuse. And this is very common.

    • billips profile image

      billips 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi Cris - thanks you for your kind comments - I am so sorry for the abuse you suffered - that can definitely affect your whole life - I hope that you can pass some of your knowledge to make the unaware out there more aware - I believe if we all practiced a bit of kindness and tolerance the world would be a wonderful place - I wish you peace - regards, B.

    • profile image

      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      Needless to say, this is an excellent hubpage. I was bullied almost non-stop growing up, plus with an a very mean alcoholic father as well. You are dead on with this one. I know of parents that actually encourage their kids to bully smaller and weaker kids. I was also gay and needless to say that made me a very popular target of bullies. I have had about four nervous breakdowns over the years and believe it stems from such a toxic childhood. In my opinon this might be one of the more important hubs out there/


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