Definition of bullying
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength and is typically repeated over time.
Traits of the bully
Bullies have an average or above average aggressive behavior pattern, are impulsive, have hot-headed personalities, lack empathy, have difficulty conforming to rules, and have a positive attitude toward violence
Teachers’ perceptions about their response to bullying vs. kids’ perceptions about teachers’ response
In one study, 70% of teachers believed that teachers intervene “almost always” in bullying situations while only 25% of the students agreed with this assessment.
The most common form of bullying among girls
Girls may be more likely to bully each other through social exclusion and they are more likely to report being targets of rumor-spreading and of sexual comments.
Long-term effects on victim
Bullying can interfere with a student’s engagement and learning in school, as a result of the distress it causes. Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely, anxious, have low self-esteem, feel unwell, and think about suicide.
What children can do
As parents or trusted adults, tell your child to notify their teacher, school counselor or principal. Advise your child not to fight back or be a bully to those who bully them. They should stay calm and not show fear or anger. They should tell the person to stop or calmly walk away. Sometimes humor can work if it comes naturally for your child. For example, they can say, “Yeah, these pants are funny-looking,” to someone making fun of their clothing. A child fearful of a bully should avoid areas of school where bullying could happen and try not to be alone in the bathroom or locker room, sit near the front of the bus, sit with friends at lunch, and find a different route to classes, if needed.
What parents can do
Keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you with names of those involved, the locations, and time it occurred. Meet with your child’s teacher and kindly explain your concerns in a non-confrontational manner. Ask your child’s teacher if he/she has noticed any bullying or if your child has been excluded from peers’ activities during recess. Ask how your child is getting along with other kids.
Ask the teacher what he/she plans to do to assist. Give the school a reasonable amount of time to investigate. Meet with a school counselor or mental health professional if you believe your child is not handling the stress well. Set up a follow-up appointment with the teacher to discuss progress. If no improvement occurs, speak with the principal about your concerns. Keep notes of your meetings with school personnel. Be persistent in speaking out if you do not feel you are being heard.
Taking these actions will have minimal impact on reducing bullying in schools
Zero tolerance policies that result in suspension or expulsion (unless in serious situations to keep a student safe) rarely produce desired effects. Conflict resolution and peer mediation would not be appropriate since there is victimization rather than conflict (such as in child abuse or domestic violence). Mediation may re-victimize a student if he/she must meet his/her tormentor in mediation. Group treatments for children who bully may promote more bullying since group members often serve as role models and reinforce such behavior among peers.
Taking these actions will have the biggest impact on reducing bullying in schools
School staff may adopt a comprehensive, long-term bullying prevention strategy that includes a change of climate throughout the entire school as well as in its expectations for student behavior.
When to involve law enforcement
When an assault or bodily injury results from bullying on a school campus, law enforcement should be involved.