Half of all public schools report that bullying, name-calling, or discrimination of students is a serious problem at their school. Bullies often pick on those who are passive, easily intimidated, or just don’t fit in. Victims are often smaller or younger, and unlikely to defend themselves. Children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social, psychological and emotional development.
Some bullies attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting. Others use psychological domination or verbal insults to put themselves in charge. Verbal bullying can also involve sending malicious instant messages or emails or even posting insults about a person on a website — this is known as cyber bullying.
Bullying is not something that just goes away on its own. It is not something that children can work out amongst themselves, and it is not something kids will outgrow. Both bullies and the kids they torment need help.
Signs your child is being bullied:
Exhibiting low self-esteem.
Signs of unexplained injuries or physical symptoms.
Abrupt changes in behavior.
A sudden slip in grades or learning problems.
What you can do:
Talk with your child’s principal and classroom teacher about the problem.
Ask your principal to notify other teachers and staff so that everyone who comes in contact with your child can be aware.
Arrange opportunities for your child to socialize with friends outside of school to help build and maintain an external support system.
Encourage your child to stick with a friend at school, on the bus, or walking home.
Consider working with your local PTA to formulate a policy for identifying and dealing with bullying behavior, or designating a week to Bullying Awareness and Prevention. Also, recruit the help of professionals to present age-appropriate and fun learning materials such as Anti Bullying School Assembly.
A Missouri statute requires school districts to put the terms “cyber-bullying” and “electronic communications” into their anti-bullying policies. The law comes after a St. Charles County teenager, Megan Meier, took her life after being the victim of online bullying. Since her death, at least 45 states have changed harassment laws to include cyber-bullying.
Other useful links:
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry