Help Your Child Deal With a Bully
The term ‘bully’ refers to someone who habitually intimidates another person. Physical bullying means physically harming another person or their property. Emotional bullying means attacking someone’s self worth by putting them down, calling them names, standing over them in a threatening manner, or even glaring at them. Social bullying means to publicly humiliate or ostracize a person, or harm their reputation with negative speech.
Bullies can be found in all age groups and all walks of life – kids, adults, teachers, laborers, office workers, or CEO’s of companies to name but a few. I am sure we can all think of people that have made our lives miserable at one time or another by using bullying tactics. I can remember a very large girl at high school who used to menace me. I never understood why she picked me, but I found it terrifying nonetheless.
Why is it that some people feel the need to bully others? James Bitney, author of ‘Preventing Bullying at School’, states that bullies get a buzz out of the reaction they see when they inflict physical, emotional, or social pain on others. Some thrive on the feeling that dominance gives them. Some bullies believe they deserve to always get their own way. Others are trying to actually create some self worth or acceptance by bullying others. This boosts their ego and supposedly increases their social acceptability. Copycat bullying occurs when a person’s hero is a bully and they want to be the same.
Bullies pick targets they consider weaker than themselves. These ‘victims’ are often physically smaller or emotional, shy, clumsy, anxious, or have some disability. Because of these factors the victim will rarely report the bully to authorities for fear of further retaliation. Bullies often have a ‘pack’ of friends around them to bolster their power base.
To stop bullying, parents must be aware of bullying behavior. If you see intimidating behavior in your own children, then this needs to be dealt with immediately. Is the child copying a parent or favorite TV character’s bullying behavior? Encourage open communication with your kids so they are more likely to tell you when they feel intimidated by others. Find out why a child is reluctant to play with the neighbor’s child or doesn’t want to go to school. Find out if your school has a ‘No bullying’ program, and if not, request it.
If your child is being bullied, don’t tell him to stick up for himself and beat the ‘xxx’ out of the bully. There will likely be a fight and your child will probably come off worst. Allow the adults in authority around him/her sort it out.
It is not a good idea to front up to the parents of the neighborhood bully. You might find yourself staring into the eyes of the root cause. Any fighting in the school system is reported as assault and the offending child/children are, or should be, seriously disciplined. If you are not happy with the school’s action then you have the right to make it a police matter and file a report. Fighting and harassment are criminal offences.
If you feel unsafe at home, at school, or in the workplace, then help is available. Do something about it now before someone else gets hurt.
Reprinted with the permission of Forefront Families. ©2006-2008 Forefront Families. All Rights Reserved.
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