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What is the definition of bullying?

Bullying may consist of hitting, teasing, taunting, spreading rumors and gossip, stealing, or excluding someone from a group. It is carried out with the intent to harm someone who cannot defend themselves. Bullying is unfair and one-sided. It can be repeated over time or can be a one-time occurrence. The important component is that it involves an imbalance of power.

Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied:

  • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
  • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
  • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
  • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
  • Takes a long , “illogical” route when walking to or from school
  • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
  • Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
  • Experiences a loss of appetite
  • Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem

What to do if you suspect that your child is being bullied?

  1. Talk with your child. Ask questions about friends, situations and difficult encounters. Ensure your child that he or she is not to blame.
  2. Instruct your child not to fight back. This will continue the bullying cycle.
  3. Advise your child to report the incidence to an adult and keep reporting if it doesn't stop.
  4. Role-play social interactions with your child to assist them in expressing themselves appropriately and firmly.
  5. Talk with staff at your child's school. Ask questions about what the teacher or other staff members observe regarding your child's interactions with others or whether they see him/her sitting by themselves.
  6. Talk with a School Counselor/Social Worker about your fears and see if there are other concerns that the child is experiencing.

Could my child be bullying other? Look for these behaviors:

  • Frequent name-calling (wimps, dummies, jerks, gay, faggot, dyke)
  • Regular bragging
  • A constant need to get their own way
  • Spending time with younger or less powerful children
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • A defiant or hostile attitude; easily takes offensive

How can I help promote respectful behavior?

  • Spend time with your child. When problems come up, help her think of respectful, cooperative ways to solve them.
  • Know your child's friends.
  • Be consistent about discipline. Hold your child responsible for negative or hurtful behavior, but avoid using public put-downs and physical punishment.
  • Eliminate toys, games, and TV shows that reward aggression. Some children learn how to bully by seeing it on television or in video games.
  • Encourage your child to be slow to take offense. Teach your child to stay cool and calm by counting to ten or trying self-talk.
  • Make sure your child knows what other children expect. Respectful behaviors we have all learned include taking turns or apologizing when you accidentally hurt someone.
  • Help your child see other points of view. Children who bully often have difficulty interpreting facial expressions or tone of voice. They forget to consider other children's feelings. Explore with your child how we might feel "In someone else's shoes."

More information:

Steps to Respect: