Family members (parents, siblings, grandparents), and close friends play a key role in facilitating the prevention of bullying. They also provide children and other youth with coping skills needed to minimize the severity of a bullying experience.
Bullying can take many forms, such as: violence (hitting or punching) teasing, name calling, intimidation through gestures or facial expressions, social exclusion and sending insulting messages or pictures by mobile phone or the internet (cyberbullying).
General advice for parents is to follow these steps:
- Brush up on the modern forms of bullying that your child may be subjected to at school, on the playground and other places in the community.
- Use strategies to try to prevent bullying and help children deal with bullying experiences.
- Go to your local library or search online for useful materials that you can use to assist children in your family, school and community.
Who are the Targets?
While anyone can be bullied, there are some general traits that are common among most targets. Typically, a target is sensitive, shy, often keeps to him or herself, and may be a bit insecure. Sometimes, children are selected who are from a different race or religious faith, or have a disability, or are small or have weight problems. Victims often internalize the criticism of bullies and feel that they deserve the teasing and may be ashamed. Victims are hurt and confused and often do not know where to turn for help. Victims often exhibit the following symptoms:
- Unwilling to go to school at all - especially if they ride a bus
- Afraid of being alone in the hallway or restroom
- Giving up studying or paying attention in school
- Having nightmares, cry for no reason, stop eating or eat too much
- Having stomach and headaches more often from stress
- Missing possessions because bullies took or ruined them
- Bruised or have cuts or rips in their clothing
- Reluctant to say what is bothering them
Since harassment rarely occurs overtly in the classroom, teachers may be slow to recognize the dynamics of bullying or to prevent it. Thus, parents need to participate actively in bullying prevention at home and actively partner with school officials.
While victims may be more likely to seek medical attention, long-term studies demonstrate that the poorest outcomes are among bullies themselves.