Tags: In This Issue, Parenting
March Against Bullying
Understanding How to Recognize and Prevent Bullying
March 01, 2011Nationwide surveys show that bullying is a widespread problem for children, both in and out of school. It is a problem that affects all children—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. It is a problem that frequently goes unnoticed by parents and teachers alike. March is National Stop Bullying Month; it is time to take a moment and learn how to recognize and prevent bullying and make a positive difference in your child's life.
What is Bullying?
Bullying comes in many forms. It can be verbal, physical, or psychological and can range from a small whispered comment at the bus stop to physical abuse at the playground. Girls typically experience verbal and psychological bullying, whereas boys often experience physical intimidation.
Cyberbullying has become an increasingly popular form of bullying in our world today. Online communication has opened up an entirely new domain for bullies and their victims. It is critical to educate your child about the risks and dangers of the Internet and show them how to use online social networking responsibly.
No matter in what form bullying occurs, it is a serious problem that can lead to long-term psychological issues for your child.
How to Recognize Bullying
It is important to keep a close watch on your child for possible signs of bullying. Here are a few warning signs that your child may be getting bullied:
1. Child comes home with torn or damaged belongings.
2. Child has unexplained injuries.
3. Child appears frightened to travel to and from school.
4. Performance or interest in school suddenly drops.
5. Child becomes depressed or anxious for unapparent reasons.
6. Child frequently complains of sickness.
7. Child has low self-esteem or a lack of friends.
How to Prevent Bullying
If you recognize any or all of the above warning signs in your child, it is important to take steps to help reduce or prevent the bullying. The first and most important step is to talk to your child. Establish an open and secure relationship with your child so that he or she feels comfortable telling you about their problems. If your child does not feel comfortable doing this, find a close family friend, a sibling, or one of their school friends who can act as a mediator.
The second step is to collaborate with your child's school and work to find the root of the problem. Teachers often have a firsthand view of bullying that occurs at school and can implement measures to prevent it from happening. The school can be your greatest ally in bullying prevention.
The same advice holds if you suspect your child is bullying others. Establish an open relationship with both your child and their school. Talk to them about role-reversal; ask them how they would feel if someone bullied them.
The best advice for parents is to act as a good role model for your child and show them how to treat others with respect and kindness. Remind them of the golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.
Katie Wynne is completing her undergraduate degree in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University.