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Bullying in School: A National Problem


Helping Children Deal With A School Bully:

Bullying behavior may seem insignificant compared to the recent level of school violence that we have seen over the past few years. However, it is often this type of behavior that ends with tragic results.  Leading experts report that one child in ten is regularly attacked either verbally or physically. Direct bullying seems to increase through the elementary years, peak in the middle school years, and decline during high school.

However, while direct physical assaults appear to decrease with age, verbal taunts and harassment seems to remain constant.  Bullying is often dismissed as “part of growing up” or “children will be children.”  It is actually an early form of aggressive, violent behavior.  Statistics show that one in four children who bully will have a criminal record before the age of thirty.

Profile of Bullies:

Some bullies are outgoing, aggressive, active and expressive.  They get their way through brute force or harassing others.  Other bullies are more reserved and manipulative.  They try to control others by saying the “right” thing at the “right” time or lying.  This type of bully gets his or her power through manipulation and deception.  However, all bullies share common characteristics. They:

  • are concerned with their own pleasure
  • want power over others
  • are willing to use and abuse others to get what they want
  • feel pain inside, possibly due to their own shortcomings
  • find it difficult to see things from someone else's perspective.

Profile of Victims:

Students who are victims of bullies are typically anxious, insecure, cautious, and suffer from low self-esteem. They rarely defend themselves when confronted by students who bully them. They may lack social skills and friends, feeling socially isolated.  The major defining physical characteristic of victims is that they tend to be physically weaker than peers.

Consequences of Bullying:

Studies have demonstrated that bullying other students during school years is associated with experiencing legal or criminal troubles as adults.  Chronic bullies seem to maintain their behaviors into adulthood, negatively influencing their ability to develop and maintain positive relationships. Victims often fear school and consider school to be an unsafe and unhappy place.  The act of being bullied tends to increase some students’ isolation because their peers do not want to lose status by associating with them or increase the risk of becoming victims themselves.  Being bullied leads to depression and low self-esteem, which are problems that can carry into adulthood.

What Can Parents Do To Help Their Children Deal With Bullies?

  • Listen to children. Encourage children to talk about school, social events, other kids in the class. Walk or ride to and from school to identify any problems that your child may be having.
  • Take children’s complaints of bullying seriously. Children are often afraid or ashamed to tell anyone that they have been bullied, so listen to their complaints.
  • Watch for signs that your child may be the victim of bullying, such as a withdrawal from social events, a drop in grades, torn clothes.
  • Tell the school or organization immediately if you think your child is being bullied. Alerted caregivers can carefully monitor your child’s actions and take steps to ensure his/her safety.
  • Work with other parents to ensure that children in your neighborhood are supervised closely on their way to and from school.
  • Don’t bully your children. Use non-physical, consistently enforced disciplinary measures as opposed to ridiculing, yelling at, or ignoring your children when they misbehave.
  • Help children learn social skills they need to make friends. A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied.
  • Praise children’s kindness towards others. Let them know that kindness is valued.
  • Teach children ways to resolve arguments without violent words or actions.
  • Provide opportunities for children to talk about bullying, perhaps when watching TV together, playing a game, going to the park, or riding in the car.
  • Recognize that bullies are acting out feelings of insecurity, anger, or loneliness. If your child is a bully, help get to the root of the problem. Seek out specific strategies with the assistance of a school psychologist or child psychologist.