What is Bullying?
Bullying is the intentional act of verbally abusing, physically harming, or intimidating another person over and over again. More and more children are being bullied by another child or a group of children or teenagers.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics:
28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying
20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.
70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
Bullies receive pleasure from picking on younger, weaker victims they can intimidate repeatedly. Usually a bully is an older teenager picking on a younger teenager.
Don’t confuse bullying with occasional teasing. Bullies want to prey on their victim as long as they can. They want to enlist others to participate in the bullying process.
Many teens will either join in with bullies or walk away from a victim that is being bullied because they desperately want to be accepted by the strongest of their peers.
Modern communication technology has made it so much easier for teenagers to bully others. Cell phones and internet are tools bullies use to go to the next level.
6% of students in grades 6–12 have experienced cyber bullying.
16% of high school students (grades 9–12) were electronically bullied in the past year.
Teenage bullies tend to get into fights, steal, drink, and vandalize.
What do Bullies Look Like? Both genders bully others. Boys tend to act more physical than girls. Girls start rumors and bully through verbal intimidation.
Bullies come out of dysfunctional homes or abusive situations. Bullies try to build up their poor self esteem by hurting others and causing suffering. They are usually angry, make poor grades in school, have low self-esteem, like power and control over others.
Bullies, themselves are really hurting deep down inside. They need lots of prayer and godly mentoring.
How do Peer Groups Affect Children? When children are placed in a formal school setting (unlike homeschool) they tend to form peer groups at an early age. By age 9 or 10 they are aware of the differences in each peer group and tend to move away from their parents. Peers become the number one priority in their lives. When they reach middle school, peer groups tend to form cliques. Bullies tend to come out of these cliques during middle school years.
What are Some of the Signs of a Bully Victim? Kids today are so peer oriented that sometimes they remain silent for a long period of time before they will say anything to their parents.
When your child seems to be acting abnormally you need to take notice. Chances are they are being picked on. Here are some signs: depression, anxiousness, poor self- esteem, aggression, withdrawal from peers, more time spent with younger children, headaches, stomachaches, drug or alcohol use, too much or too little sleep.
Why not ask your child some questions such as “Do you have bullies in your school?” “What are some things they are doing to your friends?” “How can you help your friend who is being bullied?”
After some discussion your child may admit to you that he has been picked on by one or more bullies. Take one step at a time until the entire truth comes out. The biggest mistake a parent can make is to react too quickly and embarrass your child. She would rather stay a victim than be put in an embarrassing situation with peers at school.
Bullies have a negative impact on their victims causing loneliness, anxiety, low self- esteem, depression, social withdrawal, and even poor grades in school.
What is the difference between teasing and bullying? What is the difference between teasing and bullying? Teasing is for the purpose of having fun with a person you like while bullying is a constant diet of hurting another person by verbal or physical intimidation.
Teach your child that a person who teases you is striving to be their friend. Understanding this principal will help your child understand that teasing is not necessarily a bad thing.
My dad always used to say “Don’t let them get your goat”. In other words if they know it bothers you they will continue to do it. On the other hand, if no one teases you, then you must be concerned.
Teach your children to pray for those who tease or even hurt them. According to Matthew, chapter 6, your children should: “Forgive others their trespasses (Matt 6:14) ”Love your enemies; it will drive them crazy.”
What is the difference with cliques and bullies? Cliques can be exclusive groups of friends who join to share common interests. Many schools have classifications of cliques to include jocks, techies, hipsters, intellectuals, stoners, environmentalists, preppies or normals. Most students fall into one of these categories and feel at home in one of these groups.
Belonging to a clique helps kids feel secure and gives them a sense of belonging and identity. Sometimes, this is a good thing as being part of a clique offers kinship with others like them. On the other hand, being a part of a clique will keep students from being an individualist and keep them from being all he or she can be.
Unfortunately many students will forsake his or her values to fit into a crowd and not be made fun of. The clique may “party”, but a teen who knows it’s wrong will join anyway just to fit in.
Many cliques lead to bulling. Bullying begins to build during middle school years.
Bullying takes place when a person or persons in a clique use intimidation, threats and physical abuse to gain power over another person or another group.
I believe God wants Christian young people to learn how to stand alone and not just forsake Christian values to fit into a clique of friends.
What is Cyber Bullying? Cyber Bullying is using electronic media to intimidate, put down or destroy others. This is one of the fastest growing types of bullying in the world. A person will go on line and say things about another person, use pictures and spread rumors or falsehoods about that person.
Social media is increasing and as it does, cyber bullying will increase. It is not going to stop.
When you see your son or daughter afraid to check his or her media or will not even talk about using the computer, displaying anger or frustration then you may have a good reason to believe she is the victim of cyber bullying.
What is a parent to do? Begin to monitor what is happening online? Get to know your child’s friends so you know what is going on, even if your child will not communicate to you.
Another way to help your children cope with cyber bullying is to have some general guidelines on the use of the computer. For instance: The computer should not be in your child’s bedroom because you cannot monitor it.
It is also important that parents are aware of all the modern technology and ways for students to be involved in social networking.
How Can Parents Help Children Deal with Bullies? Even though most students hate bullies, they rarely try to stop them from hurting other kids. How can a parent help their child survive as a victim or a bystander of a bully?
First of all help your child understand some basic Biblical principles concerning relationships. Eph 4: 32 says be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Your child needs to know early on that forgiveness is essential to a Christian. When a child bullies your child teach your child not to hold on to bitterness but instead hold on to forgiveness.
Secondly, be a parent that communicates; allow your child to be open to you about problems such as bullying in school. If your son or daughter can be honest with you, simply help him become stronger through opposition.
Next, be a parent who prays openly with his or her child, especially when they are going through intimidation and bullying.
Definitely be in communication with the school on their policies and how bullying is affecting your child.
Protect Your Child from Bullying or Becoming a Bully
- Be a consistent parent- All my years of parenting I can honestly say that consistency is probably the number one attribute for a parent to achieve. Live your talk and let your children experience your consistency. Consistency says; “I will do what I will say that will do.” When children see parents live out their convictions they will follow their good behavior.
- Teach your Children to be Slow to Anger– Anger is not sin, but teaching children to be slow to react and to control anger is very important. Teach your child when they find themselves angry, to step away from the situation and to begin to practice prayer before they react in any way. They need to learn how to RESPOND – no REACT.
- Know your Child’s Friend’s Parents– Communication with other parents is very important, especially when your child is involved. If you know the parents then you know how they are going to react in certain circumstances. Knowing the parents can help you understand how to deal with your child.
- Spend Time with your Children- Build a strong personal relationship with your kids. Many parents try to buy their children gifts and “stuff “ as a substitute for spending little time with them. Nothing can substitute not spending time with your children.
- Show your Children how Good Wins over Evil- Parents model good behavior or bad behavior. A successful parent models good behavior, then explains how important good is over evil. Parents cannot hide evil from their children, but they can explain to them the bad effects and consequences of evil. For instance when a sleazy T.V. show flashes across the screen, explain to your child why Christians do not watch that kind of program.
- Teach your child wisdom- Wisdom is looking at life from God’s point of view. In other words, begin to look at life as our Father does as He is looking down on you. How would you do things differently?
- Teach your child to be an individual– Make sure to teach she understands that she is “wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14) and loved by God… just the way she is. A great lesson to teach is that God is the only one she should strive to please.
- Teach your child agape love- True agape love only comes from God. When we practice agape love we begin to practice putting others first and ourselves last. We begin to show Christ in the way we live. My dad used to say “Love your enemies and it will drive them crazy”. Love has power to overcome your greatest enemy.
- Re-enforce your Love, Acceptance and Support– Make sure your child knows that you are in the wing, ready to help if needed. (Again, without embarrassment)