While the first day of school can be very exciting, it can cause anxiety or some children. One parent shared with me that as he was putting his nine year old daughter to sleep the night before school she appeared to be very worried. The dad asked his daughter if she was excited about school. The child responded that she was kind of nervous. Dad inquired “What are you nervous about?” The child responded: “I am scared of the bullies.”
Most people can remember some experience with a bully while growing up. Bullying is a form of violence common among children. Bullying can be found in neighborhoods, and homes throughout the United States. The National Association of School Psychologists reports that currently one in seven students in America is either a bully or the victim of one. Bullying is not a normal part of growing up. Victims of bullying suffer psychological and sometimes physical scars that last a lifetime.
Parents are concerned that their child may be a victim of a bully or even be the bully. Certainly all children are witness to some form of bullying during childhood. Children’s experiences place them in the role of a bystander more frequently than in the role of either victim or bully.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is a conscious, willful deliberate, hostile activity intended to harm, induce fear through the threat of further aggression, and create terror. (Coloroso, 2003)
There are three basic components in all bullying behavior:
- An imbalance of power – bullies are often bigger or stronger, have greater verbal ability than their target and may be more popular with their peers.
- An intent to do harm – there is no doubt that the actions are meant to hurt the targeted child.
A threat of further acts of aggression – the bully makes it clear that this will happen again.
Forms of Bullying
Bullying can be verbal, physical or relational. Listed below are some examples of these forms:
Verbal: taunts, name calling, put downs, rumors, gossip, etc.
Physical: hitting, poking, punching, choking, destroying the victim’s property, etc.
Relational: ignoring, isolating, excluding, shunning & rumors
What Makes a Child a Bully?
Bullies are not born. Bullying is a learned behavior. Bullies learn to be bullies in a large part by the way they were treated by bigger or more powerful people in their lives. Research indicates that some children learn bullying behavior by the time they are preschoolers. The following are risk factors for the development of a “bully”:
- Lack of warmth and parental involvement
- Overly permissive parenting (lack of limits)
- Lack of supervision by parents
- Harsh inconsistent disciplinary practices
- A model for bullying behavior
Potential victims can be just about anybody as some children are bullied for no apparent reason. However research indicates that potential victims are more at risk if they have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Unsure of themselves
- Lack self-confidence and social skills
- More sensitive, quiet, careful
- Few friends
- Appear weaker
- Are different
Bystanders also play a significant part in bullying. Bystanders may not initiate the bullying, they might join in or they might just stand by and let it happen. The bystanders also experience the consequences of bullying such as fear, guilt, anxiety and lower school success.
Why Kids Don’t Tell
Often bullying goes unreported. There are many reasons why most children are afraid to tell their parents or an adult:
- Fear of how parents or adults may react
- Don’t think anyone can or will help
- Will not be taken seriously
- Afraid of retaliation
The most effective way of addressing bullying is through a comprehensive program involving school administration, teachers, parents, students and community involvement. October is National Bully Awareness Month. By raising awareness and increased understanding of Bullying we can do something about bullying.
Make October 22, 2014 the day that bullying prevention is heard around the world. Join us as we participate in Unity Day. Unite against bullying! That’s the day everyone can come together—in schools, communities, and online—and send one large ORANGE message of support, hope, and unity. Wear ORANGE and stand up to bullying.
For more information on this topic visit the following sites used as a resources for this article:
If you would like more information or assistance with this topic, call me today at 781 254-1682.