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Is Your Child Being Bullied? ‒ My Top Four Tips To Prevent Your Child From Becoming A Victim

Written by: Kari Kling, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

“I’M GOING TO FOLLOW YOU HOME ON THE BUS AND BEAT YOU UP AFTER SCHOOL!” Those are the words that a bully yelled at me in the 8th grade, were embedded in my soul as a young teenager, and impacted my life through my young adulthood. When I finally gathered up enough courage to ask this fellow student (who I didn’t even really know) what I did to her, she replied that, “she didn’t like the way I looked at her.” She continued to taunt and threaten me for a few weeks, even though at the time it felt like an eternity! I was terrified out of my mind and I made my own situation worse by never telling anybody for fear of escalating the situation.

Why do people bully, why is it on the rise, and what can we teach our children about how to deal with these unwanted scenarios and stop them in the first place?


Webster’s Dictionary defines a ‘bully’ as: to seek harm, intimidate, or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable. Have you ever been a bully or dealt with a bully?


Bullying...


It can happen to anyone, not just young children or teens. Bullying can happen:

  • in school

  • in the workplace

  • in a family

  • within a marriage

  • online

  • within any kind of organization

  • anywhere

Bullying can look like:

  • name calling

  • relentless teasing

  • physical harassment

  • threatening

  • stalking either in person or cyberspace

  • intimidating

  • spreading lies about a person

  • body shaming

  • exclusion

  • abusive comments

  • financial manipulation

  • parents asking a child to ‘take sides’

Why do people bully others?


Because they:

  • feel powerless

  • are hurting

  • have been through their own trauma

  • feel insecure

  • don't have their own identity or control in their own life

  • seek revenge

  • are dealing with mental illness and impulsive behaviors

What are the effects of being bullied?

  • fear

  • depression

  • social and emotional isolation

  • feeling like a victim

  • sleep difficulties

  • anxiety

  • difficulty focusing on schoolwork or other tasks

  • negative personal relationships

  • increased absenteeism from school or work

  • increased self-doubt

  • higher rate of dropping out of school

  • decline of physical health including increased stomachaches and headaches

October is Bully Prevention Month in America. I believe it’s a topic that needs to be focused on globally, 365 days per year, not just as a one month point of conversation. If your children were being bullied, would they know the signs and know what to do?


In 2021, the National Bullying Prevention Center stated that 20% of students reported being bullied and that 41% of students who reported being bullied at school believed that they thought it would happen again. (Back in the 8th grade, I would have been one of those statistics!)


Additionally, one out of every five adults report that they have been bullied in their lives. Fifty percent of 9 to 12 years old children have stated that they experienced bullying at school.


Studies have shown that bullying situations increase the risk of suicide for both the victim and aggressor. Bullyingstatistics.org reports how alarming these statistics have become. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people resulting in approximately 4,400 deaths annually. These statistics may not all be correlated with bullying, but bullying victims are between two and nine times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. This statistic is from studies by Yale University.


A similar type of study in Britain reports that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying and an ABC News report suggests that nearly 30% of students engaged in bullying behaviors or were victims of bullying. Additionally, 160,000 children (pre-pandemic numbers) stayed home from school each day due to a fear of being bullied.


What makes bullying even worse for so many people is the fear of telling ANYONE and intensifying the situation. Studies show that it is very common for this fear to brew inside the victim, almost to the point of feeling incapacitated. I know this statistic all too well as it is only recently that I ever told anyone what had happened to me. We must do a better job of teaching and modeling for our children how to communicate about such matters.


Sadly, the concept of what a ‘bully’ is today is even more real and intense than when I was in the 8th grade. Just turn on the news and you will see innocent bystanders being assaulted, personal property being destroyed and violence in our streets. Much of what is deemed ‘entertainment’ in today’s world revolves around the theme of hurting others, showing a lack of respect for people’s feelings or their property and ‘seeing how many kills’ one can get in specific video games. The constant exposure of these images can greatly desensitize what it feels like to be a victim or a bully for everyone.


If we truly care about our children, this is a clarion call for all of us! We must be able to recognize and know what to do when our children are suffering and to help them find their voice. It’s imperative that we prepare our children to recognize and deal with a bully before they may find themselves in a potentially harmful situation. This preplanning is synonymous with the concept of teaching our children to swim with lots of support, guidance and practice when they’re very young and not trying to teach them to swim once they’re drowning.


When a person is being bullied, a natural and first response for so many people is, “Why is this person so angry with me? What did I ever do to them?” It is important that the victim realizes that it's not their fault. People who are hurting, hurt people. Emotionally healthy people don’t prey on others.


So how do we provide guidance to our children and prepare them to know what to do if they are being bullied? We must raise our awareness and teach them how to recognize the signs of bullying, as stated in the first part of this article, and what to do if they find themselves amid these circumstances. This can be accomplished with open communication, role playing various types of scenarios, identifying trusted adults to turn to and a lot of observation by the parents. In doing so, we can put an end to these very hurtful statistics that wreak havoc on so many lives.


It is with enormous hope to decrease bullying and its negative impact that I present My Top 4 'TIPS' for Bullying Prevention:

My life experiences have shown me that the ‘T’ of TIPS, “Tell a trusted adult,” is where we need to begin. Just as I was paralyzed with fear in the 8th grade and never told another person what was happening to me, I now know that my reaction was not unique. It has been reported that approximately 54% of children who are bullied are also too frightened to ever tell another person.


The ‘I’ of TIPS cannot be reinforced enough. If a person is going to exhibit bullying behaviors toward another, it’s important that the victim realizes that it’s most likely not their fault. Once again, please reference the ‘Why do people bully others?’ section earlier in this article and review it with the children in your life.


P is for ‘People.’ People who are secure, confident and happy don’t go around treating others in bullying and hurtful ways, they just don’t. It’s important to teach this to your children so that they don’t automatically self-blame if they endure bullying behaviors aimed at them.


S…Stand up for others! If you see something, know of someone being harassed, even if it’s not about you, stand up for that person by talking with them or telling a trusted adult.


If your children are involved in a bullying situation, I encourage you not to go about trying to solve it in a public way. Posting it on social media or showing up at school or other locations to confront the bully will almost always make the situation worse. Instead, do your best to support your child in handling these delicate situations privately.


It is only by raising awareness, and empowering our children by teaching them the signs of bullying and how to respond, will we be able to decrease the fear and emotional pain associated with this negative and dangerous societal issue.


There was no 'bullying prevention awareness' back when I was in the 8th grade. It was each person for themself. After all these years, my memories of being bullied, even though it was only for a couple of weeks, are still there. Many years later at various high school reunions, I always wondered if the bully who threatened me would be in attendance. I was no longer afraid of her, but the thought of seeing her again was certainly not a pleasant one. I was thankful that she never showed up and I have no idea what happened to her.


Whether a person is a victim or a bully, the consequences that may result from these experiences may have serious long-lasting ramifications on a person’s life. If you even suspect that your child is involved with a bullying situation and you’re not sure what to do, seek help immediately. Don't wait for a crisis to seek guidance. Your child’s emotional, mental, physical health and life may depend on it.


If you would like a complimentary copy of my graphic 'My Top 4 TIPS for Bullying Prevention,' simply go to my website and click on the blue banner at the top of my home page and a copy will automatically be sent to you. Thank you!


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Kari Kling, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kari Kling, M.Ed., Parent Coach


Kari’s 40 years of experience as an internationally recognized educator, counselor, parent coach, and author/speaker has given her the expertise to guide thousands of parents to reach their parenting goals. Kari’s solid understanding of how we behave and learn is grounded in neuroscience.


Kari is a sought-after keynote and featured speaker for national and international conferences. She loves to meet and work with parents and their families in her home state of Arizona, nationally, and globally.


Kari states that her most powerful learning experience about parenting has been being the mom to her 20-year-old twin boys, as they have been her greatest teachers.


You can email Kari to learn more about her parent coaching services at: kari@karikling.com

or check out her website and social media.

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