This Back to School Season, Learn About Bullying and What You Can Do To Prevent It!
For many, the back-to-school excitement has begun. But with all the excitement of shopping for new backpacks and school supplies, many forget the worry and stress that students can face when returning to school for the new year. Children and teens may experience a wide-range of emotions and anxieties when the school year begins, which extend beyond meeting new teachers, finding new peer groups, or trying out a new sport or activity. Many students are faced with bullying, a wide-spread issue in all communities.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is related, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying behavior may include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power (such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity) to control or harm others.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. There are several types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes things such as teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting or threatening to cause harm.
- Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes leaving someone out on purpose, telling other children not to be friends with a particular person, spreading rumors about someone, or embarrassing a person in public.
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes: hitting/kicking/pinching, spitting, tripping/pushing, taking or breaking someone’s things, or making mean or rude hand gestures.
- Cyberbullying is another common type of peer bullying which takes place over digital devices such as cell phones, computers, and tablets via text messages, apps, social media, or online forums.
What can parents and caregivers do to help make the start of a new school year a little less worrisome? First, having regular conversations with teens and children about daily life (activities, friends, every day issues, etc.) may provide the basic foundation needed for when it is time for a much heavier topic, such as bullying. Communication about every day things is key and will provide the trust needed for when children and teens need to talk about more sensitive topics.
Of course, parents should also talk about bullying directly with their children.Doing so is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting your child. Start conversations about bullying with questions like these:
- What does “bullying” mean to you?
- Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
- Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
- Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
- What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
- Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
- What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
- Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
- Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?
In addition to talking to your child about bullying, there are also a variety of online resources as web-based products and mobile apps which educate parents and caretakers, as well as help keep children and teens safe. Feel free to check out these resources:
With regular conversations, as well as education and awareness of bullying, children and parents alike will be better equipped to face the new school year. If you, your children, or someone you know have safety concerns or are being bullied, please contact your local school, law enforcement, or Someplace Safe Advocacy Office at 1.800.974.3359. Visit us online at https://www.someplacesafe.info/.
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