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Pediatric Health

Understanding Bullying

How parents can help

November 01, 2011
Today, bullying can involve hitting, name-calling and some new forms of harassment through technology, called cyberbullying. Research shows that young people rate bullying as a bigger problem than racism, pressure to have sex, or use of alcohol or drugs. Here's what you can do to help your child deal with bullying—whether he or she is the instigator or the victim.

What is bullying?

Bullying involves inflicting harm on people who aren't able to defend themselves. It can happen anywhere, to boys or girls, in-person, through the Internet or by phone. Bullying can cause long-term harm to both the instigator and the victim, including depression, low self-esteem, poor grades, and increased risk for substance abuse, suicide and murder. It often goes unreported for many reasons, including embarrassment and fear of retaliation.

Types of bullying:

• Physical – hitting, punching, shoving

• Verbal – name-calling, teasing

• Relational – spreading rumors, breaking up friendships, excluding people

• Cyberbullying – bullying that involves the use of technology, such as e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging and social networking sites

How you can help

When children are involved in bullying, it is important for you to take action. Here are some steps from www.stopbullying.gov you should consider if your child is being bullied:

• Talk with your child and express your concern; assure your child that you want to help.

• Reinforce that bullying is wrong and not their fault; recognize their courage to come forward.

• Ask what they think can be done to help stop the bullying and reassure them that the situation can probably be handled privately.

• Document ongoing bullying.

• Help your child develop ways for handling future situations.

• Be persistent and patient, the situation may not be resolved immediately.

• Watch for other problems that could result from bullying.

• Discuss the situation with your child's teacher or school counselor.

• If needed, get help for your child from Healthcare professionals.

• Talk regularly with your child and school staff.

If you think your child may be bullying others, here are some things you can do:

• Find out your child's version of the situation.

• Reinforce that bullying is serious and won't be tolerated.

• Remind them of your rules and expectations of behavior.

• Carefully monitor your child's activities, including when they are online or texting.

• Make sure you know your child's friends and how they spend time together.

• Encourage him or her to get involved in social activities.

• Work with your child's school to ensure the bullying does not happen again.

• Talk with a school counselor or health professional to provide your child with additional help.

More resources are available at www.stopbullying.gov.

For more information, visit www.RileyHospital.org.

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Dr. Emily Scott, pediatric hospitalist, Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health

Tags: In This Issue, Health, Kids, Parenting, Tweens & Teens

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