Bullying and How to Handle It

Bullying has become rampant in all schools all around the world. Thousands of kids are insulted, picked upon and demoralized by being called a colorful plethora of derogatory names. Yes, school is supposed to be tough. But it’s not supposed to be so tough that it makes you want to hide beneath your covers and stay at home. Usually children are ready to face the most stringent teachers but they are terrified of encountering a crowd of bullies. Although many steps have been taken to put a halt to it over the years, there is no denying that the bullying epidemic still exists today.

It has been estimated by research that the bullying epidemic has worsened even more over time due to the increased diversity of beliefs and cultures. The fear of being bullied has pushed around 160,000 students into staying at home instead of attending school. As a matter of fact, bullying has also paved way for the concept of home schooling. The dangerous part about bullying is that victims of this act are 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide as a means of escape.

What statistics reveal?

In addition, 14% children belonging to high school think of suicide and approximately 7% actually attempt it every year. The number of student deaths by suicide is rising day by day as the bullying epidemic continues to spread. Gays and lesbians are more likely to be the target of bullying and the number of bullying episodes and the consequences are absolutely staggering. It is gradually impacting the youth.

Previously, episodes of bullying were not as widespread and were reported to the right authorities by the audience watching it. However, conditions are deteriorating rapidly because not only the victims themselves but also the onlookers are unwilling to speak up against the act as they are fearful of being the next target. Child bullying is considerably more damaging although adult bullying also has its effects.

How the victim suffers?

The bullying epidemic is a progressive act, which has different stages. The severity of bullying varies as per every stage. At first it starts from the looks and the stares from peers. Then the child has to suffer through giggles and whispers everywhere they go. Now is the stage of name calling, in which abusive language is included. The last step is the physical abuse in which children may be pushed, tripped or beaten. In some cases, bullying goes to such extremes that children are used as constant slaves and punching bags for entertainment purposes.

This is damaging to the personality of the victim in particular. The scars of bullying last for a long time and sometimes are permanent is those children are not provided with proper counseling or therapy. The pits of bullying are the verbal assault that the child has to bear on a constant basis.

Problems Faced

A teacher or adult might stop physical abuse but no one can put a stop to the verbal comments and snickers that a child has to face. It is said that despite being the smallest part of the body, the tongue can inflict damage of the highest degree. This is indeed true but the main dilemma is that many people choose to overlook bullying. This ignorance and compromise with the act has probably the reason behind the aggravation of the bullying epidemic. When caught fighting or abusing, in most cases, both the victims and bully are given the same punishment. This can further discourage the victim from speaking up and turn them against the system. Long term physical and emotional baggage is carried by children who are the victims of bullying but numerous teachers and parents choose to ignore it by saying that ‘it happens all the time’ or ‘it’s just a stage and will pass’. This is wrong and steps need to be taken to put a halt to it for proper upbringing of your child.

Action plan for parents

Parents often make the mistake of going in denial because they do not wish to believe that their child could be an outcast and they feel ashamed. They are unaware of how to deal with their children when they find that they have been the objects of bully. Read on further to know some of the steps you have to take when you find out if your child is a victim:

Identify the indicators of bullying

Figuring out that there is a problem can be difficult unless your child comes home with bruises or a black eye. The child’s personality will send up red flags when bullying occurs. A lack of interest in favorite activities changes in eating and sleeping pattern, depression and deviance from usual routine are all signs of bullying. If you suspect that your child is being bullied, it is best to talk to them first and explain that there is no harm in admitting it.

Talk to your child

First of all, you have to comprehend what bullying exactly and explain the same to your child. Experts have defined bullying as an act where a person intentionally torments someone in an emotional, physical and even psychological manner. You need to tell your child that bullies can do much more than pushing and hitting. Your child needs to understand the difference between personality differences and bullying because children often tend to confuse that. Bullies will try to scare you, say mean things about you and take away your lunch money. When someone tells your child that they don’t want to play together; that isn’t bullying. Bullying is when they tell others not to play with you. It is essential for your child to understand the distinction between these two acts.

How you as a parent can help?

Explain to your child that it isn’t their fault that they have become a victim. The self-esteem of your child would have been considerably damaged with constant bullying and you need to tell them that it’s not because of who or what they are. The problems actually exist with the bullies themselves. Appreciate your child for discussing the problem with you and assure them that by telling the truth they have also saved other children, as further bullying would be prevented.

Your child also needs to know how to avoid the situation of bullying. You can suggest to them that they switch restrooms and go to a different one from the bully. Ask your child to make up a buddy system through which they are not alone whenever they are in the hallway. Explain to your child that reacting with tears and anger doesn’t help because it encourages the bully. Once the bully realizes that the victim is no longer getting upset, they will get bored. By pretending that the bully is invisible, you can make bullying boring for the bully. This requires practice but it is very effective.

Contacting the school

Contact the school administrators and address the situation with them. Don’t let things go, expecting them to be resolved on their own. Involvement of teachers and principals is necessary. If a bully is victimizing your child, there is a possibility that there are other victims as well. Become your child’s advocate and empower them to stand on their own. Before long, they will stop being bullied.  Bullying is a very grave and serious business and more and more schools have established a policy of a zero tolerance approach to this act. However, this does not mean that it has stopped happening. Anti-bullying rules have been set up and teachers no longer opt to look the other way but the school authority can only do so much.

Children will still find opportunities to bully and insult other kids and peers. Parents should empower their children at home and make them strong enough to deal with anything. Dealing with bullying is no easy task but it has to be handled the right way particularly when your child is the victim.
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