Banishing the Bully in Your Child’s Life
By Christine Cristiano
Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in the nation’s classrooms and communities. For the victim, the scars of repeated bullying last decades and affect the victim’s well-being even into adulthood. In extreme cases, continuous bullying has resulted in the suicide of the victim. There are three types of bullying: physical, verbal, and relational. Physical bullying involves kicking, pinching, or hitting a victim or stealing the victim’s belonging. Verbal abuse is the use of words or profanity to hurt, intimidate, or insult a victim. Relational bullying is more complex, the bully will convince others to reject, hurt, or abuse a victim.
Bullies excel in their antics because they seek out individuals who they see as weaker, shy, insecure, different, overly emotional, or smaller in statue. Ironically, bullying is a display of insecurity and lack of confidence. A child resorts to bullying to gain control and feel powerful and may crave attention and acceptance from their peers.
Is Your Child A Victim?
Often, a victim of bullying won’t disclose the harassment for fear of repercussions from the bully. One of the most common signs of a bullied child is their refusal to go to school: the child will feign sickness to stay home. Others signs include:
- A child, who normally enjoys playing outside, refuses to go out or avoids a certain place like the park.
- Unusual moodiness or change in normal demeanor.
- Torn clothes, bruises, scratches, and missing personal belongings
- Repeated requests for money, which is secretly given to the bully (extortion tactic by the bully to ensure safety).
If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, your child may be a victim of bullying. Tread lightly when you approach the subject of bullying with your child. They may feel embarrassed, angry, and sad or even a sense of guilt. Validate their feelings and mutually set an action plan to deal with the situation.
Stopping the Bullying
Your first course of action is to call your child’s school and speak to their teacher. Inquire as to your child’s behavior, grades, and playing habits. Is your child suddenly sitting alone, afraid to go out at recess or changed friends recently? If the teacher confirms that something is amidst, book an appointment immediately to discuss the situation. Ask about the school’s policy on bullying and what can be done to alleviate the problem. The school may take a wait and see approach before initiating a full-scale investigation. If the bullying is confirmed, the bully’s parents may be contacted to discuss possible solutions.
If the bullying is taking place in your community, ultimately you may have to talk to the bully’s parents. Be forewarned, if the child is a bully, odds are that one of the parents is also. In both scenarios, it’s wise to keep a record of the bullying incidents. If the situation can’t be resolved through the school or by talking to the bully’s parents, check with your local community police and inquire as to the local laws concerning harassment. Remember that bullying can have serious consequences and your child’s mental health is at risk.
Victim Survival Tips
A child’s lack of confidence and confrontational reaction can make them an easy target. Many children are naturally passive and empathic and are bewildered by their predicament. The bully’s behavior is foreign to them because they wouldn’t dream of inflicting abuse upon another child. As a parent, you can aid in your child’s battle against the bullying by:
- Instructing your child to play with a group during recess, after school or when playing outside.
- Role-playing with your child. Teach your child to use their voice in an authoritative manner when speaking to the bully.
- Encouraging your child to stand with confidence, and look directly in the bully’s eye. Often, once a victim has learned how to stand up to his predator, the bullying stops.
- Teaching your child to control their emotions so they won’t cry when confronted.
- Getting to know your child’s friends and encourage them to play at your house. Acceptance by your child’s peers is vital in restoring self-confidence.
- Enrolling your child in classes that teach self-confidence including Tae Kwon Doe, Judo, Karate or any other kind of martial arts.
- Insisting that your child takes a street-proofing course that will teach your child what to do if confronted by a stranger, or bully.
Your child’s future shouldn’t include the aftermath of years of bullying. When necessary, take your concerns to the highest authority and put a stop to bullying in your child’s school and community.