The school year is well underway. Our kids have all adjusted from the carefree days of summer to the daily routine of going to school. That makes now the perfect time to consider what life in the classroom and playground can be like for our children. For many children teasing is a part of growing up. Adults have a tendency to discount the effects of teasing and bullying, which is unfortunate.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit as a child, I was a victim of teasing. It seemed as though it was only a rite of passage for me and that everyone went through it.
The reality is that words can be painful and teasing often escalates into bullying. It is considered bullying when it is done repeatedly with the purpose or intent on hurting someone else. Bullying can be both verbal and physical. Hitting, pushing, and taking a child’s property are examples commonly mentioned in reference to physical bullying.
Bullying can start as early a preschool and gradually intensify throughout the school age years, and it doesn’t stop there. Reports of bullying continue through college and even into the workforce. The biggest problem lies with school-age children. Making threats and spreading rumors about victims is a problem. It becomes an even bigger issue, however, when these comments are posted on social networking sites such as Facebook. Not only are those harmful words said to the victim, they are now posted for the whole world to see which makes is so much more detrimental to the victim.
The victims of bullying can suffer physical and emotional effects that can potentially have a major impact on their lives in a negative way. The victims are often perceived as physically weaker than their peers and may have low self-esteem and poor social skills which makes them easy targets for bullies because they are less likely to retaliate.
While it’s easy to understand how being the victim of a bully can be detrimental, it’s also true that being a bully can lead to problems. Studies have shown that schoolyard bullies often find it difficult to form positive peer relationships. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol which can lead to criminal activity.
What are some signs that your child has become a victim of teasing or bullying?
- Look for increased signs of stress
- Increased passivity or withdrawal
- Frequent crying
- Recurrent complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach-aches or headaches with no apparent cause
- Unexplained bruises
- Sudden drop in grades or other learning problems
- Not wanting to go to school
- Significant changes in social life
- Sudden change in the way your child talks: calling herself a loser, or former friend a jerk
What are some things adults can do to help children who are victim of bullying?
- Increase supervision of children
- Sit down and talk with them
- Listen to them
- Tell them they are ok the way they are
- Check in with them
- Give kids advice
- Show them compassion and kindness for life and our fellow humans
- Get kids involved with activities outside of school
When should law enforcement become involved?
- Consider involving the police if another child has physically assaulted your child or is seriously threatening him or her with bodily injury.
- If the problem persists or escalates and your school officials are unable to stop the bullying. You may want to consult an attorney.
- Ask the school to keep a written record of all offenses committed against your child in case law enforcement officials need the information for further complaints.
As adults, we may feel uncertain about how to handle bullying when we see or hear it happening. We may respond in ways that don’t make the best use of the opportunity to teach a young person the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Bullying among children is inappropriate because it is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power and strength. If the situation is not handled appropriately, we could end up inadvertently promoting, rather than reducing, bullying.
In conclusion, be kind to one another.
Reach Vandalia Crime Prevention Officer Douglas Nagel at 415-2272 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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