What is bullying?
Bullying has been defined as “any unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” This behavior may be repeated over time. It is important to note that while bullying is primarily related with school, it can occur anywhere and at any time. There are three “types” of bullying, which include verbal, social, and physical bullying.
- Verbal Bullying: This involves writing or saying something that is unkind to someone else. Verbal bullying can occur face-to-face, but in recent times, this kind of bullying occurs online, such as on social media websites. This kind of bullying can include teasing, name-calling, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments, and threats.
- Social Bullying: This involves hurting another’s social relationships, and can include leaving someone out on purpose, telling other children not to befriend someone, spreading rumors, and embarrassing someone else in public.
- Physical Bullying: This involves hurting someone else, and includes hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing, tripping, taking or breaking someone else’s property, and making rude hand gestures.
The more you know about bullying, the easier it will be to recognize when it is happening with your child - and the easier it will be for you to step in.
Children involved in bullying
In a bullying situation there are many more roles than simply those who bully and those that are bullied. Bullying may be dissected into two aspects, passive and active bullying. The direct roles include:
- Kids who bully
- Kids who are bullied
Some of the passive roles include:
- Kids who assist
- Kids who reinforce
- Kids who defend
Every bullying scenario is different and many children both bully and are bullied by others. It is important to recognize the many different roles that are involved in a bullying situation.
Avoid labeling during a bullying situation
Avoid categorizing the children in the bullying scenario as a “bully” or “victim” as this may have negative side effects on the kids. Labeling the children may:
- Indicate to the child that their behavior cannot change
- Fail to acknowledge the many different roles that are involved in a bullying situation
- Undermine other factors that contribute to the situation (peer pressure, school climate, etc)
Help kids understand bullying
Educate your children about the types of bullying and how to spot them. Keep an open line of communication with your children by spending 15 minutes a day asking questions such as:
- What was one good thing that happened today? Did any bad things happen today?
- What is lunch time/the bus ride like at your school?
- What do you think bullying is?
- Have you ever seen someone being bullied? Did you try and help?
You can also encourage your child to stand up to bullying by using humor, or confidently telling the student who is bullying to stop. You can encourage your children to report bullying, reminding them that this is something that brave, smart kids do.
Remind your child that they should be kind to others, that bullying is wrong and hurtful, and that there is no excuse for hurting someone else. Instead teach your child how to help those who have been bullied, and how to support them in the future.
For more information visit https://www.stopbullying.gov