Bullying is never okay
What is bullying?
We hear a lot about bullying these days, but how do we know the difference between a bully and just a mean or angry person? Bullying is when someone is being hurt on purpose by words or actions, and that person has trouble stopping the behavior.
Kinds of Bullying
Bullying can be physical, emotional, verbal, social, or cyberbullying.
- Physical bullying might include pushing and shoving, hitting, yelling, tripping, taking and/or breaking personal possessions, spitting, rude gestures, and fighting.
- Verbal bullying includes name-calling, mean comments, laughing, teasing, and threats.
- Social bullying includes excluding someone from activities on purpose, spreading rumors, purposely embarrassing or telling lies about someone.
- Cyberbullying Cyberbullying is using technology — like the internet, email, cell phones, and social media to hurt or harm someone else. This can mean sending mean texts, posting statements online that are unkind or untrue, or sending or posting pictures to embarrass someone.
Where does it happen?
Bullying can happen anywhere, but usually happens at school, going to or from school, or in your neighborhood. Cyberbullying can occur whenever someone has access to the internet, a cell phone or social media.
What can schools do so students feel safe from bullying?
- teach kids how to identify bullying behavior in themselves and others
- teach positive communication skills to create a better environment
- create a system so kids can easily report being bullied and the school can take action
- initiate classroom discussions about the effects of bullying and encourage students to be partners with the school to prevent it from happening
- have counseling available for bullies, their victims, and kids who help bullies
- establish an anti-bullying policy that includes strong consequences for bullies
What can kids do?
- memorize a simple phrase you can use to intervene. Just speaking up can help deescalate a bullying situation quickly
- change the subject or use humor so kids are distracted and the bully no longer has center stag
- go and stand next to the person being bullied. Another physical presence — even a silent one — sends a strong message to the bully
- show kindness after the incident. Express sympathy, invite the student to sit at your lunch table. These supportive acts will help enormously
- take action by telling a teacher or other person in charge at school. The person being bullied is usually conflicted or scared to tell someone, but you can do so instead so the school can intervene
What can parents do?
Learn to recognize when a child is being bullied: It’s hard for kids to talk about being bullied to their parents, so the most important thing parents should do is recognize the signs of bullying. Your child might be being bullied if he/she:
- refuses to go to school
- doesn’t want to talk about school
- demands a change in how they go to and from school
- no longer participates in after school activities or plays with their old friends
- is very hungry after schools, possibly due to avoiding cafeteria or giving up lunch to a bully
- has frequent physical complaints such as headaches or nausea to avoid going to class
- has grades that take a nosedive
- is often in an angry mood and prefers to be left alone
- shows an obvious mood change after being on the computer or phone
- has unexplained bruises or injuries
Learn to recognize the signs that your child might be bullying: It’s also hard for parents to believe their own child might be a bully, so it is important to recognize these signs as well. Your child might be bullying if he/she:
- seems to lack empathy for others
- needs to be in control
- derives pleasure from other people’s pain
- has been bullied in the past
- excludes certain kids from activities
- overly concerned with popularity
- is intolerant of children perceived as different
- teases other children and/or harms animals
- observes a family member gossiping or excluding someone
Talk about it: There are countless books, videos, websites, and other resources that can help you talk to your child about bullying at any age.
Be a positive role model: Children observe and absorb more of our behavior than you might think. Foster loving and kind relationships within the family
Teach your children to stick up for themselves: Try role-playing and coming up with simple phrases they can use if they are facing a bully
Explain how to intervene safely: If your child witnesses a bullying situation, they can stand beside the one being bullied, distract those around them, use humor or a simple phrase to de-escalate the situation quickly.
No one deserves to be bullied.
If you or a friend need help with a bullying problem, contact CARE at (586) 541-2273 for information about our bullying prevention resources.