Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. It is a repeated behavior and can be physical, verbal, or relational. While boys may bully others using more physical means; girls often bully others by social exclusion. Bullying has been part of school, and even workplaces, for years. More recently, though, technology and social media have created a new venue for bullying that has expanded its reach. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online and via cell phones. Websites like Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr and Formspring allow kids to send hurtful, ongoing messages to other children 24 hours a day. Some sites, such as Tumblr and Formspring allow messages to be left anonymously.
Parents of kids being bullied
Educate your children and yourself about cyberbullying and teach your children not to respond or forward threatening emails. “Friend” your child on Facebook or Myspace and set up proper filters on your child’s computer. Make the family computer the only computer for children, and have it in a public place in the home where it is visible and can be monitored. If you decide to give your child a cell phone think carefully before allowing them to have a camera option. Let them know you will be monitoring their text messages. As a parent, you can insist that phones are stored in a public area, such as the kitchen, by a certain time at night to eliminate nighttime bullying and inappropriate messaging. Parents should report bullying to the school, and follow up with a letter that is copied to the school superintendent if their initial inquiry receives no response.
Educate your children about bullying. It is possible that your child is having trouble reading social signs and does not know what they are doing is hurtful. Remind your child that bullying others can have legal consequences.
with low self-esteem often bully to feel better about themselves. Even children who seem popular and well-liked can have mean tendencies. Mean behavior should be addressed by parents and disciplined.
Report bullying and cyberbullying
It is important for students to report any bullying to a parent or an adult they trust. Often kids don’t report cyberbullying because they fear their parents will take away their phone or computer. Parents will support their child’s reports of bullying and not take away their phones as a consequence. It is important for kids to remember that bullying is wrong and should be handled by an adult.
Whenever possible, avoid situations where there are no other students or teachers. Try to go to the bathroom with a friend or eat lunch in a group. When riding the bus, sit near the front. If you know a student who likes to bully others is in an area where you normally walk to lunch or class, try to use alternative hallway routes.
Remember, report bullying of yourself or other students to your teacher, coach, principal and/or parent.
Students who experience bullying may feel overwhelmed, depressed or anxious. If your child or student is having trouble at school or with friends as a result of bullying, a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, can help your child develop resilience and confidence. This will enable your child to be more successful both socially and academically.
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