For our November 22nd show, Jim Knight, crime prevention specialist, joined us to discuss bullying, itâ€™s effects and how to prevent it. Is your child being harassed & teased? Or maybe itâ€™s your child doing the bullying?Â Are some children more prone to being a victim? What should a parent do if their child is being bullied? Jim is here to answer these questions and talk to us about protecting our family from bullying.
Bullying is definitely a hot topic with the recent suicides of students who were victims of bullying. An astounding 160,000 students miss school every day due to bullying or the fears of being bullied. Different than a one time teasing incident, bullying:
- Can be physical, emotional or verbal.
- Involves harassment, teasing and / or exclusion from a group.
- Happens over a period of time, it is not a one-time occurrence.
- Is based on an imbalance of power. The bully is trying to assert their authority over the victim.
Why Does a Child get Bullied?
Children get bullied for different reason. But frequently, victims of bullying often have:
- Physical features that make them stand out such as a lisp or an accent.
- Clothing that doesnâ€™t fit in with what the other kids are wearing.
- Mannerisms that are unusual compared to their peers.
Even worse, once targeted, other children may join in and start to bully the victim due to pressure, fear of being left out or fear of attracting the attention of the bully.
Children can suffer severely at the hands of a bully. Often we find victims of bullying:
- Doing poorly in school.
- Suffering from low self-esteem or sense of self-worth.
- Suffering from depression.
- At greater risk of isolating themselves from family, school and friends due to feelings that they have nowhere to turn.
Parents need to pay attention to the signs above as well as look out for other red flags. If their child is withdrawing from friends, showing a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities or if their grades are slipping, bullying may be the culprit. Pay special attention to any bruises that appear on your child and make sure you know where those bruises came from.
Bullying doesnâ€™t just involve face-to-face interaction. Cyber-bullying is taking it electronically using the Internet and cellular phones. Cyber-bullying can include:
- Cruel, harassing messages over a period of time either sent via email or text.
- Pretending to be someone else online in order to obtain information that can be used against the victim.
- Posting and sharing embarrassing pictures on social networks, email or phones.
How Do You Stop a Bully?
There are several ways to handle bullying. Today most states have worked with their school districts to issue policies dealing with bullying. But in order for the school to help, the victim has to come forward. Encourage your child to speak out in order to stop the cycle. They need to share what is happening with their school, teacher, counselor or anyone else that they feel comfortable talking too.
Bullying and harassment often leads to violence or property damage. At that point assault, criminal damage or vandalism charges can be filed. If they are consistently threatening or stalking thru the computers or cell phones, telecommunication harassment charges can also be filed.
Unfortunately, there arenâ€™t any specific cyber bullying laws yet. But due to recent suicides and other incidents as a result of cyber bullying, authorities are trying to increases the severity of the crime in order to keep our students and children safer.
Fighting back is not always the solution. Teaching a child to push back can lead to negative side effects. The victim may become a future bully since it gives them a sense of superiority over others.
Is Your Child the Bully?
If your child is the one doing the bullying, you need to find out what is behind the aggression. Is it a result of being a victim and they are striking back? Talk with you child and teach them to develop empathy skills, ask how they would feel if they were being teased. And most important of all, evaluate your own behavior. Children learn from parentsâ€™ actions. Remember as a parent there are three steps:
- Stop the behavior.
- Explain why the behavior is wrong.
- And donâ€™t forget the third step â€“ you must teach an alternative behavior.
Hurting people hurts people â€“ your child may be hurting which is why they are striking out.
Jim currently works with a group call â€œThe Care Team Initiativeâ€ which is a network of teachers, guidance counselors and those in the family court working together to see which factors can negatively affect at risk youth and find ways to create a more positive learning environment. This initiative is currently responsible for speaking with thousands of students through presentations in the area.
For more information about bullying or to contact Jim Knight, please call the Stark County Crimewatch Division at 330-451-7888.
Listen to a recording of the entire show on Wriggling in The Middle.