Love and hatred have been in a fight for supremacy since the beginning of time. The forces of good and evil coexist and are part of our human nature. Philosophers have long been debating over the nature of good and the essence of evil. What’s right and what’s wrong? And why can’t we always be kind to each other? Why do some people feed on others suffering? One could fill entire shelves of books trying to answer these questions. Bullying reminds us that the fight between good and evil isn’t over yet. To do this topic justice in this short article would be impossible, but we can discuss in short the many facets of bullying. You’ve probably experienced it at some stage in your life and your children might face it, too. In fact, one out of four children gets bullied.
What do we understand by bullying?
Bullying is a term used to describe a wide range of behaviors that hurt someone both physically and mentally. It’s intentional - a bully deliberately acts in a hostile and aggressive way. Bullying is a phenomenon that happens at school, at work, and even on the streets of your neighborhood.
Most of the time, those who bully don’t realize the negative impact of their actions. Words can hurt deeply. In Alabama, McKenzie Adams, a 9-year-old girl, committed suicide in December, last year, after being harassed because of her skin color.
The strong and popular ones often oppress the weak and vulnerable. They feel empowered to do so, and they think they can make themselves look good by humiliating others. Bullies don’t have real friends, either. They surround themselves with like-minded people and outgoing personalities who don’t dare to condemn their acts. They’re hard to catch and don’t realize that they’ve taken everything too far until they are exposed.
Bullying can be:
- Physical - hitting, pushing, pinching and other forms of violence
- Emotional - threatening, stealing or hiding personal belongings, excluding someone from certain events or activities, marginalization
- Verbal - spreading rumors, name-calling, sarcasm, bad jokes
- Sexual - inappropriate physical contact, remarks regarding sexual orientation, comments about someone’s looks, sexting, and spreading images without the consent of the person involved.
- Racist - racial taunts, allusions, graffiti
- Online (cyberbullying) - using the Internet and social media to embarrass someone.
Bullying has immediate consequences
The sad part of bullying is that the victims often live this drama inside of them and never share the fact that they are bullied. They carry a burden too heavy for their fragile souls and often end up in depression, isolation, and shyness. Persistent bullying erodes self-esteem and prevents a person from reaching full academic potential.
Bullying seems to be at its peak during adolescence and less of a problem in the last year of high school. In most neighborhoods, most bullying occurs in schools. However, harassment and acts of violence can happen on the streets as well. Your child may be stalked and intimidated by a gang or by your neighbor’s child. If your neighborhood doesn’t feel safe, don’t hesitate to find a real estate agent on RealEstateAgent.com and move to a safer area.
No matter where you move, though, the teenage years remain a huge challenge. All the corners of the Internet are filled with pieces of advice for parents of teenagers, but few parents have time to read them. While children don’t come with a user’s manual, let’s not forget that every child is unique and reacts differently to bullying. However, no one should reach the point where death is the only way out. Bullying must be discouraged at all costs. But for this to happen, teachers and parents must work as a team.
Signs that your child is bullied
Children don’t often give their parents too many details when they are asked how it was at school. Your child probably gives you always the same answer, too. That’s why parents have to do some guesswork and look for clues like Sherlock Holmes to find if there’s something wrong.
A child who constantly experiences violent verbal or physical attacks at school:
- Becomes frightened and may not even want to go to school anymore
- Doesn’t want to walk to school or changes the regular route
- Experiences an academic decline and gets more and more low grades
- Comes home starving because someone stole his or her money. Bullied children may even avoid eating lunch because the presence of the bully makes them feel uncomfortable
- Comes back with clothes or books destroyed
- Shows up with unexplained bruises, scratches or cuts
- Changes his or her behavior
How to put an end to bullying?
Communication is the main weapon in combating bullying, although self-defense techniques may help in extreme situations. Encourage your child to talk openly about what’s happening at school and on the way to and from school. Also, teachers must watch for the above signs, too. When more students report a bully or a gang of bullies, the school staff must immediately take measures to help them integrate and give up their destructive behavior.
These groups can be broken by changing their breaks and lunch schemes or by assigning the members to different classes. Talking to their parents may also change their behavior in the future. Bullying incidents must be taken seriously by the school and by the parents.
At home, don’t let the mean words thrown at your child bring him or her down. The worst thing is to take everything a bully says to heart. These people are attention suckers and don’t deserve to be taken seriously. Remind your child that there are plenty of people who know how beautiful he or she is. Besides, you’ve probably experienced more than one bullying incident and managed to get over it. Do you remember how? Then, come up with a strategy and stick to it. That could make your child feel a lot more comfortable and safe.
We may never understand what bullied children go through. They take their struggles home and let fear and despair live inside them. They often can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we are here to find the closest emergency exit for them. So, let us be the light they need in the middle of their turmoil. They will smile again!