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Anti-Bullying Week: What You Can Do

Posted 11-12-2018

Across the United States, 19% of students report having been bullied on school property. Bullying is defined as any unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalance. While most reported bullying happens within school walls, a significant amount happens outside of school, especially through social media. When adults respond quickly and consistently to this type of behavior, it sends the message that is not acceptable.

Signs Your Child May Be Being Bullied

More times than not, children don’t want to talk about being bullied or ask for help. Being able to recognize warning signs is an important first step in taking action to stop bullying. There are several warning signs that may indicate if your child is being bullied:

 

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothes, books, electronics or jewelry
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • A feeling of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations

Looking for these changes in your child or younger relative could help you start a conversation about what is happening. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse.

How do you know if your child is the doing the bullying? Here some signs to be aware of:

  • Having friends who bully others
  • Blaming others for their problems
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or detention frequently

Is My Child at Risk of Being Bullied?

There is no single factor that pinpoints why a child is at risk of being bullied or bullying others. Bullying can happen anywhere and in any type of setting. Even adults can be victims of bullying, specifically at their workplace. Generally, children who are bullied have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Are perceived as different from their peers, such as being under or overweight, having glasses or different clothing, or being new to a school
  • Are perceived as being weak or unable to defend themselves
  • Are depressed, anxious or have low self-esteem
  • Have trouble getting along with others, can be seen as annoying or provoking

More recently, the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that, nationwide, more U.S. high school students who identified as being a part of the LGBTQ reported having been bullied on school property and online in the past year. 10% of these students also reported not going to school because of safety concerns.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Bullying

If your child tells you or expresses concerns about being bullied, listen calmly and carefully. Kids are often unsure if they should tell their parents, teachers or school administrators because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it’s happening to them.

One of the first and easiest things you can do is express gratitude that they told you. They need to know that they are doing the right thing and try to reassure them that you will figure out what to do together. Here are some things you can discuss with your child about how to help improve their situation:

  • Avoid the bully and use the buddy system
  • Hold the anger
  • Act brave, walk away and ignore the person bullying them
  • Tell an adult
  • Talk about it to those you trust

If your child is being bullied, their confidence is probably shaken. Encourage your child to spend time with friends who have a positive influence on them. Helping your child find clubs, sports, and other after-school activities can help them rebuild their strength and find new, close friendships.