We’ve all heard about the concept of bullying at one time or another in the media. Unfortunately, we hear more and more about it despite the ongoing movement to stop bullying. We’re also learning that bullying can be detrimental to children’s and adolescent’s self-esteem.
According to StopBullying.Gov (n.d.), the definition of bullying is, “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”
Every child plays a role in bullying. Some are bullied, others are the bully, and some are witnesses to the bullying. It is easy to label a person by their actions, but there needs to be an acknowledgement that many children/kids do not fully understand the impact of bullying. Nonetheless, the negative impact on all involved is staggering.
Experts have suggested that the effects of bullying include depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, changes in eating and sleeping patterns and poor performance in academics. Another consequence of bullying may be violent retaliation to the bully from the bullied child leading to severe injury. However, the most dangerous effect of bullying can be suicide if not dealt with quickly and appropriately.
So what can be done to help with this phenomena? The first step starts at home with parents teaching their children about bullying (including Cyberbullying). Children need to be taught that every person is unique and should be viewed as an individual and not as being different. Parents also play a major role in recognizing bullying and reporting it to the appropriate authorities so that the incident(s) can be dealt with immediately.
All schools in the United States have policies on bullying, and it is important to know who to report to when bullying is witnessed or reported. This may include the principal, a guidance counselor, or a teacher. Authorities must respond to the report of bullying. If an adult happens to see bullying taking place, there are a few things they should do: Stop the behavior by calmly intervening right away, try to remove those involved away from each other, try to secure the area so that all individuals are safe, model appropriate behavior when intervening, and report the incident immediately to the appropriate authorities. For more in-depth information, visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/