Learn how to deal with bullying
The social, intellectual and physical formative years of a child take place both at home and in school. Bullying in schools is an important issue parents need to know about to protect their children.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is repeated direct physical aggression against another person. Aside from the obvious physical ways to hurt, such as punching and kicking, there are other forms of bullying such as malicious gossip, ostracism and verbal harassment, which are just as harmful. Children act out as bullies for less obvious reasons. They may be suffering from problems at home, which can affect their self-esteem. The desire to belong to the "right" crowd, or the need to feel smarter or stronger, can cause a child to bully.
Bullying at School
How is it that in a place that is supposed to be safe for kids, with so many adults around, the practice of bullying is so rampant? School is the social center for children, where they learn to interact, work and play with peers. But there are many areas in school where children are without supervision, like hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms, or even the bus. Either a lone student or a group can gang up on another, attacking and assaulting without interference.
Principals, teachers and staff are educated in child safety, but they cannot be everywhere all the time. Consequently, bullies learn where and when they will be unsupervised, taking advantage of the situation to perpetrate aggression on other children.
Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Withdrawing from social activities and avoiding friends warn of problems in school. When a child fakes illness to stay home or begins skipping school, it may indicate bullying. Observe your child's behavior closely, watching for depression or isolation. Signs of bullying include:
- Disinterest in schoolwork or school activities
- Sleep difficulties and / or nightmares
- Anxiety and its physical symptoms: headache, stomachache, tension
- Inexplicable cuts or bruises
Bullying statistics and surveys change constantly, depending on accuracy in reporting, and age / grade level variations. Various websites list and update information often. Some recent figures:
- Parents who are concerned about their child's physical safety at school: 32%
- High school students who report feeling unsafe at school: 36%
- Grammar school students bullied up to 3 times per month: 23%
Knowledge and awareness will help keep children safe from bullying. Resources for child safety and bullying in school can be found on the Web and in your local education department.