Today’s bullying is a combination of classic schoolyard and cyber-bullying. What begins during school appears online that evening for everyone to see. Communicating on social media platforms gives youth 24/7 access to one another. However, with this access comes the potential for them to experience inescapable exposure and victimization, creating an overwhelming sense of helplessness and isolation. Despite this new dynamic, some things never change; the person that has the most control in a bullying dynamic is still the bystander (the third party observer). When a community takes a stand by deciding to become a positive influence with no tolerance for bullying, there is a drastic drop in bullying cases.
Youth involved in bullying are more likely than those who aren’t to be depressed, have high levels of suicidal thoughts, and have attempted suicide.
20.1% of students are bullied on school property within one year.
5.9% of students had not gone to school on at least one occasion within a 30 day period because they felt they would be unsafe at school.
32.8% of students had been in a physical fight one or more times during one year.
1 in 3 teens (12-17) have experienced online harassment.
Bullying can begin at a young age, frequently affecting loved ones and peers. It is often thought that youth cruelty is a “normal” part of a growing up and that “everyone goes through it.” The reality is that bullying is characterized by an imbalance of power, unwanted aggressive behavior, or intention to harm, and is carried out repeatedly over time. A target can be victimized by an individual (or group of peers) who intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon the victim through physical contact, words, body language, social exclusion, or other means.
The classic schoolyard bully has always been there. But now, bullying is beefed up electronically; anonymous cyber-bullying is also a possibility. Adolescents and even small children communicate through social media and texting; this provides a 24/7 opportunity to do damage to one another. Kids and teenagers who have experienced victimization by this type of inescapable exposure, report an overwhelming sense of helplessness and isolation. One sensitive bystander or group of independent observers can have the most control over the dynamics involved in bullying. When a community takes a stand, deciding to be a positive influence with no tolerance for bullying, there is a drastic drop in bullying cases.
What choices did the speaker make that they can or cannot relate to; what did they learn?
Discuss with your kid what you have learned about bullying and what your family’s view of bullying is.
Suggest that they come to the aid of others. This can be done by removing the target from the situation (tell the target that a teacher needs to see them) or by taking the opportunity to speak positively about the victim, on or offline. If your kid feels safe, they also have the option to tell the bully to stop. Also teach them to document and report everything that they observed. It is important that they understand that telling is not snitching. Tragically, no one intervenes in bullying 85% of the time. Your kid can make a big impact by communicating the problem to school administration.
If your kid is being bullied, it is important that they feel as though you are concerned and empathetic about their situation. They do not need to be lectured - they already have enough stress. Utilize this time to reassure them that they are loved and that you will support them through this time in their life. Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed it's happening to them, or they worry that their parents will be disappointed. Sometimes youth feel like it's their fault, they're scared that it will get worse, that no one will believe them or help them do anything about it, or that parents will overreact and take away their technology.
Most states have taken a strong stand against bullying by instituting laws and statutes designed to protect the well-being of our youth. Take time to research your state laws on bullying. Communicate with your school administration and the police if the problem persists or becomes physical. Make sure to save all communications and include dates, locations, and names of the people you reported the incident to. Several states that have bullying legislation require continued documentation by the school and administration. It is always a good idea for families to also maintain complete records of all incidents and actions taken to resolve the situation.
Get involved in your kid’s life by encouraging positive activities such as sports, music, family outings, and by modeling appropriate conflict resolution. Utilize your school administration as a resource to follow up with every incident.
Kids that communicate their problems are more likely to recover. Create opportunities for open dialog, encourage them to continually speak with school staff, and reinforce a positive self-image.
It is easy for a kid to switch roles from a victim to a bully and vice versa. Know your kid’s peer groups, monitor their internet use and online posts, check their room and car, and discuss family values and boundaries.
Most states have taken a strong stand against bullying; discuss the legal ramifications. Make your kid's behavior your responsibility. If your kid is the bully, work with your school administration and hold your kid accountable to predetermined consequences.
Often times there are underlying causes of bullying and a victim can suffer from lasting emotional consequences. Regardless of whether your kid is the bully or the victim, utilize resources like your school, Boys and Girls Clubs, local churches, and health care professionals to bring the issue to resolution. If the problem persists, or becomes violent in nature, contact your local police.
notMYkid is not a counseling or treatment agency. We are here to offer support, information and options. Destructive youth behaviors do not discriminate and have impacted many lives. A number of resources are available, and will assist you in finding the help necessary to make informed and empowered choices.
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