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Bullies & Victims

         Bullies & Victims - 2

Page 1
What is Bullying? 
Who Gets Bullied?
Prevention Strategies

Page 2
When Your Child is a Target
Who are the Bullies?
Heading Off Bully Behavior
Sources & More Resources

When Your Child is a Bully’s Target
Unless your kid comes home with bruises or torn clothes, you might not be sure he is a victim of a bully.  Many youngsters, especially as they get older, will be embarrassed or ashamed of getting harassed.  They may feel they did something to provoke an attack, and older kids often think they need to handle these situations on their own.  The best way to know what’s going on in your child’s life is to be involved. Create a daily routine in which you and your child chat casually about the day. Take the time to listen, ask questions, and respond.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) report Take Action Against Bullying, there are many warning signs that may show a child is being bullied.

Signs to watch for include a child:
ê Acting depressed
ê Withdrawing socially
ê Complaining frequently of illnesses
ê Not wanting to go to school, avoiding certain classes or talking about dropping a course
ê Bringing home damaged possessions
ê Reporting things “lost”
ê Feeling picked on or persecuted
ê Displaying mood swings, including frequent crying
ê Talking about running away
ê Attempting to take protection to school, such as a stick, rock, or knife

There are some steps you need to take for your child’s protection. 
If your child is a victim of bullying at school, inform school officials immediately. Keep your own written records of the names, dates, times, and circumstances of bullying incidents. Submit a copy of this report to the school principal.
Take e-mail and Web page threats seriously and consider reporting the
m to school officials or police authorities.
Encourage your child to talk about the bullying and listen in a loving manner
Tell your child that he or she isn't to blame for being bullied. Don't assume that your child did something to provoke or aggravate a school bully. A bully often picks on someone for no reason at all.
Support your child's feelings. Instead of dismissing their concerns or simply saying that it'll work out eventually, express understanding and concern.
Ask your child if he or she has ideas about how to stop the bullying.
Don't encourage retaliation against a bully.

Talk to people at school, including teachers and principals. Work together to find real solutions now. Don't contact the bully's parents yourself. Let the school handle that potentially sensitive situation.

If your child has been physically attacked or is threatened with harm, talk to school officials immediately to help determine if police should be involved.

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Who are the Bullies?
It can be shocking and upsetting to learn that your child has gotten in trouble for picking on others or has been labeled a bully.  If you receive word from the school or other concerned adults, it may be tempting to downplay its importance or dismiss the report as an over-reaction.  As difficult as it may be to process this news, it's important to deal with it right away. Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, if it's not stopped it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior and interfere with your child's success in school and ability to form and sustain friendships.

Kids bully for many reasons. Some bully because they feel insecure. Picking on someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker provides a feeling of being more important, popular, or in control. In other cases, kids bully because they simply don't know that it's unacceptable to pick on kids who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion.

Bullies will typically have one or more of the following traits. They may:
þ Be quick to blame others and unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions
þ Lack empathy, compassion, and understanding for others’ feelings
þ Be bullied themselves
þ Have immature social and interpersonal skills
þ Want to be in control
þ Be frustrated and anxious
þ Come from families where parents or siblings bully
þ Find themselves trying to fit in with a peer group that encourages bullying
þ Have parents who are unable to set limits, are inconsistent with discipline, do not provide supervision, or do not take an interest in their child’s life.

If you see these traits in your child, you may want to look into the issue.  If you notice behavior at home and wonder if it is bullying, it probably is!  But if your child is bullying, take heart. There’s a lot you can do to help correct the problem. Remember, bullying is a learned behavior and it can be “unlearned.”

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Heading Off Bully Behavior in Your Child
When it comes to bullying, what’s a parent to do?  When looking for the influences on your child's behavior, look first at what's happening at home. Kids who live with yelling, name-calling, putdowns, harsh criticism, or physical anger from a sibling or parent/caregiver may act that out in other settings.

It's natural - and common - for kids to fight with their siblings at home. And unless there's a risk of physical violence it's wise not to get involved. But monitor the name-calling and any physical altercations and be sure to talk to each child regularly about what's acceptable and what's not.

It's important to keep your own behavior in check too. Watch how you talk to your kids, and how you react to your own strong emotions when they're around. There will be situations that warrant discipline and constructive criticism. But take care not to let that slip into name-calling and accusations. If you're not pleased with your child's behavior, stress that it's the behavior that you'd like your child to change, and you have confidence that he or she can do it.

Every child needs to learn the importance of treating others with respect.  Let your children know what’s okay and what’s not.  Make sure they understand that it’s not right to take advantage of or hurt someone just because they feel they can. Let them know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home and school if it continues. At the same time, try to understand the reasons behind the behavior. In some cases, kids bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, frustration, or insecurity. In other cases, kids haven't learned cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences.

Be sure to:

Take bullying seriously. Make sure your kids understand that you will not tolerate bullying at home or anywhere else. Establish rules about bullying and stick to them. If your child acts aggressively at home, with siblings or others, put a stop to it. Teach more appropriate (and nonviolent) ways to react, like walking away.

Teach kids to treat others with respect and kindness. Teach your child that it is wrong to ridicule differences (i.e., race, religion, appearance, special needs, gender, economic status) and try to instill a sense of empathy for those who are different. Consider getting involved together in a community group where your child can interact with kids who are different.

Learn about your child's social life. Look for insight into the factors that may be influencing your child's behavior in the school environment or wherever the bullying is going on.  Talk with parents of your child's friends and peers, teachers, guidance counselors, and the school principal. Do other kids bully? What about your child's friends? What kinds of pressures do the kids face at school?

Encourage good behavior. Positive reinforcement can be more powerful than negative discipline. Catch your kids being good - and when they handle situations in ways that are constructive or positive, take notice and praise them for it.

Set a good example. Think carefully about how you talk around your kids and how you handle conflict and problems. If you behave aggressively toward or in front of your kids chances are they'll follow your example. Instead, point out positives in others, rather than negatives. And when conflicts arise in your own life, be open about the frustrations you have and how you cope with your feelings.

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Sources & More Resources

SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services:
  Bullying Is Not a Fact of Life
  Take Time To Talk About Bullying
 Take Action Against Bullying,
SAMSHA Family Guide: Bullying Affects All Middle School Kids
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
   Bullying Among Children & Youth
   Stop Bullying Now!
Science Daily
  School Bullying Affects Majority Of Elementary Students

  Bullying in Middle School May Lead to Increased Substance Abuse in High School
Kids Health, 2007. What Kids Say About Bullying
Parent-Teacher Association Our Children Magazine, Understanding Bullying
The Mayo Clinic: Help Your Child Handle a School Bully
Military Child: Helping Your Child Deal with Bullying
Pacer Center Kids Against Bullying
National Middle School Association – Middle School Journal: Bullying in Middle School: Prevention and Intervention
American Psychological Association: Bullying is Not Limited to Unpopular Loners

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