Bullying is a serious problem, but it can be prevented or stopped when those involved know how to address it. Many adolescents have experienced bullying, whether they were bullied, bullied someone else, or saw someone being bullied. Although definitions vary, bullying usually involves an imbalance of power, an intent to hurt, and repetition of the behavior. Adolescents who bully use their power to control or harm, and those being bullied sometimes feel powerless to defend themselves. Many schools and communities have anti-bullying initiatives in place; new resources are being developed by the federal government and other institutions to help adolescents, parents and others understand bullying and cyberbullying.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
To bully someone is to verbally or physically do harm for the purpose of gaining some type of control over a person, generally to use them for something, such as money or attention from peers. To achieve this, a bully must be able to control the victim, thus leading him to the act of bullying. The bully is often older than the victim, but this isn't always the case.
SIGNS A CHILD MAY BE A VICTIM OF BULLYING
Some of the signs and symptoms of a bullied child include withdrawing, saying they are ill and wanting to stay home from school, loss of interest in friends or having little or no friends, and loss in self-esteem.
Some children may not show outward signs of being bullied, so it is important to stay informed of what is going on in a child's life every day.
If you’re like most teenagers, you spend a lot of time on a cell phone or instant messenger chatting with friends and uploading photos, videos, and music to websites. You may have online friends whom you’ve never met in person, with whom you play games and exchange messages. Teens’ lives exist in a variety of places such as school hallways, part-time jobs, and friends’ houses. Now many teens also have lives on the Internet. And bullying has followed teens online.
Online bullying, called cyberbullying, happens when teens use the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. Cyberbullying is a problem that affects almost half of all American teens. Whether you’ve been a victim of cyberbullying, know someone who has been cyberbullied, or have even cyberbullied yourself, there are steps you and your friends can take to stop cyberbullying and stay cyber-safe.
HOW ARE TEENS CYBERBULLIED?
Being a victim of cyberbullying can be a common and painful experience. Some youth who cyberbully:
- Pretend they are other people online to trick others
- Spread lies and rumors about victims
- Trick people into revealing personal information
- Send or forward mean text messages
- Post pictures of victims without their consent
When teens were asked why they think others cyberbully,
81 percent said that cyberbullies think it’s funny.
Other teens believe that youth who cyberbully:
- Don’t think it’s a big deal
- Don’t think about the consequences
- Are encouraged by friends
- Think everybody cyberbullies
- Think they won’t get caught
HOW CAN I PREVENT CYBERBULLYING ?
Teens have figured out ways to prevent cyberbullying. Follow in the footsteps of other quick-thinking teens:
- Refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages
- Tell friends to stop cyberbullying
- Block communication with cyberbullies
- Report cyberbullying to a trusted adult
- Speak with other students, as well as teachers and school administrators, to develop rules against cyberbullying
- Raise awareness of the cyberbullying problem in your community
- Share anti-cyberbullying message with friends
Don’t forget that even though you can’t see a cyberbully or the bully’s victim, cyberbullying causes real problems.
If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.
Delete cyberbullying .... Don’t write it. Don’t forward it.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO STAY CYBER-SAFE ?
Remember that the Internet is accessed by millions of people all over the world, not just your friends and family. While many Internet users are friendly, some may want to hurt you. Below are some ways to stay cyber-safe:
- NEVER post or share your personal information online (this includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or Social Security number) or your friends’ personal information.
- NEVER share your Internet passwords with anyone, except your parents.
- NEVER meet anyone face-to-face whom you only know online.
- Talk to your parents about what you do online.
If a child successfully stands up to a bully, do not interrupt. Instead, praise the child for his efforts afterward. Then, let the bully know that you will not tolerate that behavior. If the child cannot do it on his own, then intervene further. This might include physically separating the children. Be sure that any intervention includes letting the bully know you will not allow his behavior and let him know that actions will be taken to prevent it. If the situation occurs at school, a parent should only come to the school to intervene if it is clear that teachers are not controlling the situation. However, never confront your child's bully, as you will be doing so out of anger. Instead, talk to teachers and staff to form a plan.
One of your most important responsibilities as a parent is to make sure your child is in a safe place.
If you feel your child is not being protected and is not safe, do not leave your child in that environment.
Do what you need to do to place your child somewhere he or she feels safe.