Where the Bullies Are. How To Determine If Your Child Is a Victim of Bullying.
Today, it seems like everywhere we go, every time we read the newspaper, turn on the news we are hearing of a tragic case of bullying occurring somewhere in the county. Due to the invention of social media this problem is no longer contained to just the playground or classrooms, an often times bullying is carried out over the Internet for all to see. Unfortunately, it is through this new medium we often see the tragic results of long term bullying. In fact, this issue has become so prevalent, that the current Presidential Nominee's have been accused of being former high school bullies.
The dictionary defines bullying as: intentional aggressive behavior. It can take the form of physical or verbal harassment and involves an imbalance of power. Symptoms of bullying include anxiety, embarrassment, feeling ashamed, guilt, depression and hostility. Bullying can occur face to face at school, work, church or even on sport teams and people of all ages can be affected by this behavior.
As a parent, hockey mom and teacher I have often encountered mean behavior amongst children, but one of the hardest tasks is to determine if the actions merit the term "bullying". Let's face it kids and some adults are just plain mean and have the tack of a run away truck. Often times, in today's society, where true bullying is epidemic, we are often quick to slap the bully label on any & all bad behavior. This in my opinion, can eventually lead to an overall desensitised attitude to the true epidemic.
In order, to combat this problem we as parents, and educators need to have a better handle on what equals bullying. I feel that the label of bully needs to be applied when and only when the same child is being treated in un-kind manner repeatedly by the same person or group of people on a daily basis. Bullying, is occurring when the victim is being actively being sought out by the bully. They will wait for them in halls, locker rooms, make a point to find them in lunch room even go so far to sit with them at lunch with just the express purpose of being hateful. The bullies will call them names, demean them, and in extreme cases resort to physical violence. Often times bullies will take their mission of meanness to the Internet via Twitter, Facebook, or texting. If you see any of these things occurring you need to take immediate action.
As a parent you do have the right and obligation to protect your child or children from this type of abuse. If you truly suspect bullying is occurring in the school meet with the administrators, and your child's teachers, as a group. By taking this step you ensure that everyone is on the same page and you design a plan of action to stop the abuse. If the abuse is occurring at work or on a sport's team you should take the same course of action. If there has been any form of cyber bullying, which includes Facebook, MySpace, Twitter messages or postings, any texts or voice mails copy, save and print them. In the event that you have taken the above steps and the problem isn't being resolved you do have the right to press charges against the bullies. Just make sure you have all any evidence of the abuse ready to go.
How can you tell your child is a victim of bullying? It is crucial to have open lines of communication with your child. Ask them, if there is anyone being mean to them, talk to other parents, and be involved with your child's life. Often, children (pre-teens and teens in particular) don't want to admit that they are a victim of abuse. This is where you as an adult in your child's life can make a difference through communication. Many times, like any victim of abuse, feels that if they tell someone the problem will only get worse. Assure them that it will only get worse if they don't deal with the problem. Other signs that can indicate bullying at school are grades slipping, not wanting to go to school, ride the bus, drop out of clubs, and general depression.
Unfortunatley, bullies are everywhere you go today but like all things they can be conquered. If you suspect bullying is occurring take action. Find out what the story is and take immediate steps to solve the problem. Because at the end of the day no one wants to see their loved one take drastic actions, that can't be reversed, to get away from an abuser.