Bullying is a serious problem which can have serious consequences. As many as 30 percent of students in grades six through ten are involved in either moderate or frequent bullying. These students may be the victims of bullying or could be perpetrating the bullying behaviors. Many believe youth violence, including homicide and suicide, have bullying and cyberbullying as a contributor. About 43 percent of students surveyed said they had experienced cyberbullying (online bullying). The numbers for cyberbullying are fast approaching the numbers for “regular,” in-person bullying, where a child is bullied either mentally, verbally or physically.
About 20 percent of students surveyed admitted they had bullied another student. It appears the bathroom at school is the place bullying most often occurs—43 percent of the students surveyed said they feared harassment in the school bathrooms. Physical attacks happen much more often than you would think, with about 282,000 secondary school students being physically attacked during school, and more youth violence occurs on school grounds than on the way to school. Unfortunately, a certain amount of violence on the part of students may be a by-product of what they see at home—about 28 percent of those students found carrying a weapon admitted to witnessing violence at home. As a parent, what should you do if your child is being bullied, knowing what an emotional toll bullying can take on a child? Is there a way to bully-proof your child?
Helping Your Child When He or She is a Victim of Bullying
It can be difficult to know the best way to respond when you find out your child is being bullied. First of all, you must reassure your child that you believe what they are telling you, and that your first priority is to keep them safe from harm. If the child is old enough, or mature enough to understand, explain the precise steps you plan to take to ensure the child’s safety. Spend extra time with your child, engaging in activities together, and consider seeking professional help. Be aware that many children are extremely resistant to the idea of your stepping into the bullying problem—they may feel the bullying will increase if the child bullying them is confronted. Explain as kindly as possible, that if you do nothing, then nothing about the bullying situation will change.
On a more concrete level, you might want to speak to the parents of the child who is exhibiting bullying behaviors. Obviously, this will be a tough conversation to have, but could be key to solving the problem. While there will be some parents who either do not believe their child could be bullying another child, there will be others who believe it—but think it is just “kids being kids.” Try not to be judgmental, rather enlist their help in reaching a solution. If the parents suggest your child might have a role in the situation, try to be open to that, even though it would be hard to hear. If talking to the bully’s parents does no good, and the behavior continues, you might want to consider talking to school officials about the situation.
Dealing with a child who is bullying your child can be an extremely volatile situation. You must also know when a situation is serious bullying, as opposed to friendly, playful banter, which both children find funny and are okay with. When fun teasing becomes constant, unkind, or hurtful, it has crossed the line into bullying and must be addressed. Bullying can include hitting, verbal tormenting, using threats, calling names, and even extorting money and possessions. In some cases, bullying occurs through spreading rumors and/or shunning other students, or using social media to taunt others or deliberately hurt their feelings.
Why Kids Bully
Although every situation is different, kids may pick on others because they simply need a victim who is emotionally or physically weaker—or one who is “different” in some way. Kids may torment other children because they themselves have been treated badly, or they may simply believe such behavior is “normal.” If you have children, it is important that you recognize the warning signs of bullying—perhaps your child is acting differently, seems anxious, is not eating or sleeping well, or is not doing things he or she usually enjoys. If you believe your child is being bullied, address the situation immediately, before it escalates.
Contact Our Boulder Personal Injury Lawyers
If your child or someone you love has been the victim of bullying in Boulder, or anywhere in the state of Colorado, you need an aggressive and experienced law firm on your side. Boulder personal injury attorney Debbie Taussig has the experience and resources needed to win your case. Call today for a free initial consultation and review of your case. Call 303.442.0176 or fill out our confidential contact form.