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Home >  Information A-ZAll Kids Information ArticlesBullies

Bullies:

In today’s society, and with situations like Columbine still fresh on the minds of every child attending school, bullying has become a very big issue. All parents remember the bully situation from school days. Either you were picked on, picked on someone else, or saw someone get picked on. Whatever it was, the fact that every single person reading this is in agreement on this point tells us bullying is not a new problem with school-age kids. But, with our society, it is no longer just “part of growing up” as so many parents viewed it in the past. And, as a parent, you do not want your child to ever have to deal with such problems. At the same time, though, you also do not want your child to be the one picking on others. According to a poll completed on over 1200 kids in 2004, 86% of all kids surveyed said they had seen someone else being bullied at some time or another. 48% said they had been bullied before, and even 42% admitted they had bullied some one (with 15% of these admitting that they pick on someone on a daily basis. While many of the students polled said that they had never been bullied, it is still an issue- out of the kids who admitted to having been bullied, 15% of them said it occurs at least weekly.

Bullies tend to pick on kids that appear weaker, or are different in some way or another. For example, wearing glasses, overweight children, mentally different (and this includes smarter and slower), can all be reason enough for a bully to pick on someone. While these are not the only things that will cause them to pick out a certain person to treat badly, these are some of the most common. Of course, none of them are justifiable. No matter what is different about a child, they do not deserve to be picked on. These aren’t usually the only factors though. A lot of times, kids will bully because of peer pressure, or just because they don’t like another child, but a lot of times they are taking out their own frustrations on that child. They may be jealous, because that kid gets better grades, or they may be allowed to do whatever they want at home, so they know they won’t get in any trouble. After all, if a child will never face consequences for their actions, why would they concern themselves with behaving? This is, however, not always the case. Many times the bully’s parents are very involved, and try to teach their child to do right, and they aren’t even aware of the discretions. Don’t automatically assume that a bully’s parents aren’t involved, because it isn’t always the case.

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, there are a few signs to watch for. The obvious would be them coming home with bruises, cuts, or a black eye. Usually, though, it starts out less harmful physically than this, so there are many other things to watch for. It is also important that you try to catch it in advance of it escalating to this, that way you can avoid it extending over a long period of time. The longer it is done to your child, the more it will hurt them emotionally (and possibly physically). To try to catch it early, be aware of the following signs, and start looking for them if you suspect this might be the case:

Signs to Watch For:

Missing belongings- This is one of the most common ones. Your child takes something to school that a bigger, meaner, tougher kid likes, and they steal it from them. This can also be in the form of coming home more hungry than usual, because they will often take lunches or lunch money.

Sudden attitude change- This one also occurs very often with bullying, especially when it is an attitude about school. They are frustrated about what is being done to them, but for whatever reason (sometimes threats, sometimes they just don’t want to be a tattle-tail) they haven’t told you about it. They may become edgy and have a bad attitude in general. This can also appear in the form of them becoming more emotional than usual. Scenario: They ask to go outside. You say not right now, wait until later. Then they start crying because you said no. Anytime your child starts crying about something and it is baffling you as to why they are so upset, start asking questions and paying attention for other signs.

Bringing homework home that is not theirs- A lot of kids get bullied into doing other children’s work for them. Your child may not tell you, so watch what their homework is, and if it appears it is something that he shouldn’t have until a later grade, or he is doing the same page twice, start asking him about it.

Not wanting to go to school- Every child will have their off-days. Those days they wake up and just don’t feel like dealing with school. They may make up that they are sick, or they may tell you the truth, that they just need a break. This is completely normal. After all, who doesn’t call in sick to work every great once in a while when they just don’t feel like going? But if this occurs frequently over a short period of time (even if it is two days in a row) be wary.

What You Can Do:

Talk about it in advance of it happening- In the very beginning, before your child starts school, talk to them about bullies, and what to do if they are ever picked on at school, especially if there is something about your child that you think might lead kids to be mean to them (they wear glasses, etc. My son is the smallest kid in his grade, so, remembering what other kids were like when I was in school has kept me for it all along. This came in handy when the time came). If you do this in advance, and throughout the school year, you will help keep the lines of communication open about it, and maybe they will come to you if it ever occurs. They still may not, but it’s a lot more likely than if you never discussed it with them.
Teach them how to respond to them- When you talk to your child about it, also inform them of different methods of dealing with bullies. If you aren’t sure what to tell them, you can go to www.bullystoppers.com to find out more information. This site tells how to recognize when bullying is occurring, comebacks to say to them, ways of avoiding them, information for parents on what to do in different situations, and much more.

If your child has already been bullied- The very first thing to do is to immediately find out all the details, including child’s name, or description, what happened, where it happened, and all other details that your child will tell you. Then, contact your child’s school. If it happened on the bus (as it many times does), talk to the bus driver and whoever is in charge of the busses (this is usually someone that is not linked directly with the school). Bullying on busses has actually become such a problem that many have started having video cameras on them for evidence and to hopefully thwart any problems. There are numerous cases which have escalated into outright brutality, even more so than just a childhood black eye. There were reports of a five year old in New York who was on a bus with only five year olds, when someone opened the emergency exit door and pushed him out. The driver stopped when he realized the emergency door was opened, but had already turned a corner, and didn’t know that he had fallen out. Not one of the children on the bus mentioned to him that he had. The child lived, luckily, but ended up with over thirty stitches on his head because of it. Keep in mind how this type of behavior can escalate, and pay attention to what others have done, such as cameras on the busses. It is good to be aware of, because then, when the officials act as if there is nothing they can do (as they often will), you can lobby for changes as necessary.

Whether it happens on a bus or at school, at the bus stop, or in the local park, find out the kid’s name, and then file a formal complaint through all avenues. Then, find out how to get in touch with the child’s parents. This is usually the most effective way to address the issue. No parent likes another parent coming up to their house to tell them their child is tormenting another kid. Their parents’ punishment will likely be a lot more harsh than the school's would be.


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