Bullying is a huge problem among kids and teens across the world that can have devastating effects. We’ve all read the news stories about young bullying victims hurting themselves or others, or even committing suicide. But bullying can harm victims and their bullies in less visible ways.
According to stopbullying.gov, bullying victims can experience depression, anxiety, and health problems, and their grades can suffer. Bullies are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol in adolescence and adulthood, engage in violence, commit crimes, and more. Even bystanders to bullying are more likely to have mental health problems, abuse drugs and alcohol, and skip school.
And bullying extends far beyond hitting, punching, teasing, and name-calling. Bullying is defined as any aggressive, unwanted behavior among kids that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. That involves actions such as leaving someone out on purpose, telling other children not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public, and more. Cyberbullying—bullying that takes place using electronic technology—is also becoming more and more common.
It’s a scary thing for parents to consider. No one wants to think about their child being bullied or bullying others. But unfortunately, it can happen to anyone. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help prevent bullying:
- Talk to your kids about bullying. Make sure they understand what bullying is and why it’s bad. Encourage them to tell a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied, because standing by and doing nothing while bullying takes place is just as bad as bullying itself.
- Teach them how to stand up for themselves. A child being bullied should say “stop” directly and confidently. He could also try to throw his bully off guard by using humor, like telling a joke. If those strategies don’t work, he should simply walk away.
- Give them prevention strategies. Walking in a group or near an adult can help keep a child from being bullied.
- Teach them compassion. Even if it seems like they’re not paying attention, your kids are watching how you manage stress and conflict and how you treat friends, colleagues, relatives, and strangers. So treat others with kindness and respect. Teach your kids to be nice to someone being bullied by inviting them to play, saying hello in the hallways, or even just smiling at them.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Your child may be embarrassed to tell you she is being bullied. By taking 15 minutes in the evening to talk about her day and to ask questions about what happened at school, you may give her the push she needs to discuss it.
- Monitor computer use. If possible, keep the computer in a well-trafficked area of the house, like the family room or kitchen. Set specific rules about what websites your children can and can’t visit. Insist on being friends with your kids on Facebook and other social media sites. Help your kids be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Encourage them to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online, and to think about how people who aren’t friends could use it. Remind kids to keep their passwords safe and to not share them with friends.
If you’d like to take your anti-bullying efforts a step further, consider purchasing a Tacky Box Set for your child. Created by a mother of two, the Tacky Box is a tool that encourages and teaches children to make positive choices in language and behavior. Whenever children hear tacky words or see tacky behavior, they write the actions down on a special notepad, lock them away in their Tacky Box, and remove that action/word from their heart. In addition to the Tacky Box and notepad, the set includes a copy of Max’s (or Margo’s) Magnificent Choice, a fun story that shows kids the positive rewards of choosing kindness. You can learn more about the Tacky Box and purchase the set at tackybox.com.
If all parents, teachers, and caregivers work together, we can help combat bullying among kids and teenagers. Start talking with your children today about this very important topic!
Has your child ever bullied or been bullied? How did you help him or her fix the situation? Leave a comment and you could help someone!