As the school year begins, I am reminded that children may experience classmates who use bullying tactics to get what they want or need in the school setting. These situations may cause your child to feel upset and you might not even know why. According to information shared on StopBullying.gov there are two types of children who might be more likely to bully – those who feel socially isolated from their peers and those individuals who have social power.
In addition, children who bully may show signs of aggression or become easily frustrated. Perhaps they have a low sense of self-worth; or have difficulty following rules. A child’ size may not be a characteristic that is readily noticeable in all bullies. In fact all children, both boys and girls, can bully. If you or your child has never been impacted by bullying, it might be because you have coping or refusal skills that you have used to defend yourself.
Bullying is when a child is a target, over time, of repeated negative actions. A bully is:
- A child who is aggressive for rewards or attention
- A child who lacks empathy and has difficulty feeling compassion for other children
- A child who does not feel guilty
- A child who likes to be in charge, to be the “boss”
- A child whose parent(s) or other guardian, often models aggression
- A child who thinks in unrealistic ways – “I should always get what I want!”
- A bully fully believes that the victim provoked the attack and deserved to be bullied
- A bully likes to win in all situations
Who are bullies? Both boys and girls bully others! Many times, boys will admit to being a bully and will use physical force to bully. Girls use verbal threats and intimidation to bully others.
What type of children are likely to be victims? A child who is:
- Isolated and alone during most of the school days
- Anxious, insecure and has trouble making friends
- Is small or weak and unable to defend him/herself
- Cries easily, gives in when bullied, unable to stick up for themselves
- May have suffered past abuse at home
What can we do when we suspect a child is bullying another child?
We must communicate a ZERO tolerance policy for bullying, it just will not be tolerated at school, home, after school or in our community. We must talk to children about appropriate behaviors. And we must teach our children appropriate coping skills so that they can defend themselves when attacked. Children will stop bullying when it stops working. As adults we must have heart to heart discussions with our children about behaviors they exhibit and see exhibited in their classrooms. We can make a difference, one child at a time.