Written by Karen Clark, MAMFT
New Day Women’s Center
Bullying is a form of aggression unfortunately practiced in many schools today. One-third of public schools report a daily occurrence of students being bullied according to the National Center for Education Statistics–2002 (Hall, 2006). The broad definition is “the actual or attempted infliction of injury or discomfort by one student on another student that is intentional, abusive, and based on an imbalance of power between bully and victim” (Olweus, 1994; Sullivan, Cleary, & Sullivan, 2004). Bullying can range from aggressive behaviors that involve unwanted negative actions and usually involve a pattern of behavior over time.
There are three forms of bullying: physical, verbal, and psychological:
- Verbal Including derogatory comments and calling bad names; isolation from others
- Physical Hitting, kicking, shoving, spitting, etc.; damaging personal things; any kind of threatening or intimidating behaviors;
- Psychological Spreading lies and false rumors; taking money or personal belongings; making fun of someones race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Includes:
- Cyber bullying Via phone or internet via social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
- Sexting Sending any type of sexual content or inappropriate pictures
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported that “1.7 million children (one in five) in grades 6 through 10 admitted bullying their classmates” (Cole, Cornell, & Sheras, 2006). Nearly 50% of students report some form of bullying during their educational years.
Girls and boys experience bullying differently:
- Girls use emotional violence, make others feel alienated and alone, do prank phone calls that are mean, as well as jokes or tricks designed to embarrass and humiliate, name calling, spreading rumors, being malicious, making others feel left out through exclusion, as well as inciting others to act out violently or aggressively. About 72% of girls have reported being bullied and 81% of boys.
- Boys tend to be more physically aggressive and may punch, kick, push, or even tickle excessively. They also tend to use verbal methods like name-calling, insults, teasing to target their victims.
The affects students experience by being bullied are academically, socially and psychologically. Victims have a very difficult time learning effectively in an ongoing climate of fear and anxiety with the threat of any possibility of physical injury, loneliness, and decreased self-esteem.
The 4-1-1 steps for parents and teachers starts by raising awareness about bullying:
- Improving the student-to-student relationships
- Developing clear rules and boundaries against bullying
- Putting a stop to intimidating behaviors,
- Giving support and protection to victims of bullying.
Six steps for parents and teachers:
- Symptoms to look for start with some sort of unexplained reluctance to go to school; fearful or unusual anxiety; disturbances in sleepers well as possible nightmares; vague physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches), often on school days; and belongings that are missing altogether or come home ripped.
- The right questions to ask are how are they spending lunch hour, what it’s like going to school either walking to and from school (walking or bus). Ask if there are any children at school who are bullies, without asking whether your child is being bullied.
- Teach your child how to avoid the situations that expose them any type of bullying by giving them a support system if necessary through older companions escorting them safely to or from school.
- Encourage children to speak out to a parent, teacher or another trusted adult who they trust. Kids need to know the difference between tattling and telling on someone.
- Advocate for students by working with the authorities at school and parents. Be aware of the problem and keep a written record of any and all incidents and listing those involved.
- Safety at school by having supervision in hallways, lunchrooms, bathrooms, in the milieu, and on the playground. Children have the right to feel safe at school.
If you suspect your child is being bullied or is bullying others, please contact us at 619.713-1544 to schedule a time to meet with Karen to see how she can help your child.
Karen enjoys working with teens and teen issues and is also available to speak at your school or event on the topic of bullying.
*A great reading resource for kids of all ages is Think Twice Play Nice found at http://www.teachervision.fen.com/tv/printables/penguin/anti-bullying-literature.pdf