ABC News reported that an 11-year-old, Pennsylvania boy is currently in a medically induced coma after a schoolyard fight with classmates who he and his family claims were bullying him. According to Bailey’s father, the boy who struck his son was suspended for two days following the incident, but police have not filed any criminal charges in the case. This incident is a horrible reminder to parents that bullying isn't just about other kids making fun of each other; it can be deadly. As a parent, just the idea of someone bullying your child will infuriate you to no end. "Helping Kids Deal with Bullies" explains what bullying is, why kids bully, signs of bullying, and helpful tips and advice for parents.
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It includes hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking. Some kids bully by intentionally leaving other children out of a group and spreading rumors about them. Now, with the popularity of social networks, kids don't even need to leave their home to taunt others and hurt their feelings.
Why Kids Bully?
Kids bully for a many reasons. Sometimes they pick on kids because they search out a victim, someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker, or just acts or appears different in some way. It often makes them feel more inferior, popular, or in control. Bullies don't always have to be physically bigger than their victim.
Signs of Bullying
Many children are reluctant to tell their parents about being bullied. Unless they have visible bruises or signs of trauma, it can be hard for a parent to know what exactly is going on. But there are some warning signs. Parents know their child better than anyone else and you might notice your child acting differently or seeming anxious, or not eating, sleeping well, or doing the things they usually enjoy. When kids seem depressedb or more easily angered than usual, or when they start avoiding certain situations, like taking the bus to school, it might be because of a bully.
How parents can help their child
Try to remain calm and don't allow your anger to overshadow the comfort and support that you need to provide your child. Children are reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed or ashamed that it's occuring. Sometimes children feel like it's their own fault, that if they looked or acted differently it wouldn't be happening. Sometimes they're scared that if the bully finds out that they told, it will get worse. Others are worried that their parents won't believe them or do anything about it. Most importantly, praise your child for being brave enough to talk about it. Remind your child that he or she isn't alone. Highlight that it's the bully who is behaving inappropriately not your child. Reassure your child that you will figure out a solution together.