Bullying is a serious issue that many children, teenagers, and adults face. Bullies are typically other children but they can also be adults as well. Whether it is bullying in school, bullying at work, bullying in sports, bullying at home, or bullying in your community. It's important to take bullying of all kinds seriously and make sure you know what to look for, learn, and do, if you are being bullied or your child, teen or another person’s child is being bullied. Some kids might be too scared or embarrassed to tell an adult, which can lead to more problems down the line. Here are some tips, tricks, and information about bullying and how you can help your child if they are a victim of a bully.
What Is Bullying?
Essentially the bullying definition is when an individual uses intimidation or violence to abuse, threaten, scare, assault, embarrass, and demean another person repeatedly.
Bullying is an abusive behavior pattern in which the perpetrator repeatedly and intentionally inflicts physical or psychological distress on another person or living being.
We define bullying as negative behavior that happens over time. More specifically, it means hurting someone either physically or emotionally, with intent to make them upset or afraid. We know this isn't healthy for anyone, so we count it as abuse—not something children should have to face from anyone, including other children.
Why Do People Bully Others?
Many people bully others because they want to feel powerful or superior. The desire to control someone else may also be due to the bully’s own insecurities about their masculinity, confidence, intelligence or appearance to name a few.
There are several other reasons why some people bully others. Bullies may act tougher than they really are by bullying smaller kids who can't defend themselves, while secretly feeling scared and inadequate and taking it out on others. Bullies might believe that bullying is just harmless fun - an activity without consequences - but this type of behavior does cause serious harm not only to the person being bullied, bullying also increases the risk for take-backs (hurting the person who is bullying) and reinforces violence as an acceptable way of solving problems regardless if it's among friends or enemies. There's also the allure of popularity. Many teenagers sometimes bully others to gain acceptance in a group or social circle.
Bullying can be physical or psychological and it may range anywhere from minor teasing or social exclusion to crushing physical violence that leaves deep physical and emotional scars. It can also take the form of rumors, name-calling or retaliation on social media. Bullying is very often underestimated by teachers, parents and even victims of bullying themselves since it may start out as a petty conflict of interest between peers of roughly the same age and size which someone bullies another for fun - but it usually escalates into a painful experience that, in worst-case scenarios, can lead to self-harm and even death.
When someone bullies another, he or she may start out as the leader among a group of peers but ends up at the bottom of the social ladder. Bullying is seen as a practice which must be stopped since it causes psychological and/or physical harm to the person being targeted. Both bullies and their victims are at risk for developing depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol/drug abuse problems or other forms of psychological distress.
Bullying Long Term Effects
Bullying can cause long-term damage to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The mental & emotional effects of bullying and this form of abuse, in addition to those that occur during an assault itself, include feelings such as fear, anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, PTSD, sadness; difficulty interacting socially or forming a meaningful relationship with others for years afterwards because you're always building emotional walls which makes trust impossible; suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm; significant trauma that affects your daily activities and how you view the world around you.
Physical effects of bullying are endless, depending on the type of bullying you may receive bruises, scrapes, fractures, torn muscles, dislocation, broken bones, cuts, and more. Long term physical effects of bullying can be incredibly hard to deal with, for example a broken bone from a bullying incident could lead to lifelong effects such as pain & arthritis and even lead to obstacles such as inability to climb, kneel, crouch, run, grab, swim, and more.
Bullying has a terrible impact on the victim's life. It can lead them to feel hopeless or afraid, which in turn affects how they act. All it takes is for ONE bullying incident to adversely change a person’s life forever, this is why NO ONE deserves to be subjected to bullying.
Bullying At Workplace
Bullying at work is a serious issue that affects people from all walks of life. Although there are many different kinds, bullying can be defined as the act or practice of humiliating and intimidating another individual on purpose because they disagree with their beliefs or interests; this may take place face-to-face between two individuals but also includes social media posts where victims post personal information which cyberbullies then use against them in order intimidate further.
If you are being bullied at work (bullying nursing, bullying teaching, bullying clients, etc.) you should talk to your employer about the issue, but if your boss is the bully, try to speak to their boss (upper management) or the proper work related authorities within your local government. If the bullying doesn't stop, you should consult with an employment lawyer, government agency who can help you, or contact local police when being assaulted, harassed, or subject to a crime.
When it comes to bullying in the workplace for adults, even though there are no laws that protect against it specifically, there are still some legal options available ESPECIALLY when a crime is committed. These include speaking up to the bully and/or HR; filing a complaint with federal or state agencies; suing in court; taking early retirement or quitting your job- these are all viable options depending on other factors. The other thing is that it's not only high school kids who experience bullies at work- so find out what your professional association offers as advice.
Ways To Prevent Bullying
It is important to stop bullying before it even starts because bullying can cause serious long-term mental health problems and physical injuries. There are many things that parents, teachers and students alike can do in order prevent bullying from happening. We’ve created a great list below of the best ways to prevent bullying.
- Create a safe environment where kids can talk about their feelings.
- Talk to other parents and teachers about bullying in or outside of the school.
- Make sure all children have someone they can trust, someone who will listen to them and provide emotional support and comfort.
- Encourage your child to write down what is happening so it may be easier to recall and talk about when telling someone else.
- Teach your child how to avoid bullies - walk away from a bully or tell an adult if you are being bullied by a group of people.
- Teach your child how to say "No" - Bullies want easy targets, not tough ones!
- Be aware of the warning signs that your child is being bullied or bullying others.
- Teach your child to treat others with respect and dignity.
- Report any instances to the proper authorities, even the police (remember, assault is assault and harassment can happen at just about any age).
- Teach your child self-defense or even enroll them in self-defense classes or sports like jiu-jitsu or karate.
What to do if my child is being bullied?
Do you ever feel that your child is possibly being bullied? If so, there are definitely some proactive things to do about it. First, it's important for parents to know the signs that their child is being bullied (moodiness, anger management problems, depression, anxiety, stress, lethargy, quietness, and more listed below). Monitoring social media posts or text messages may provide clues to any abuse or negative interactions.
Secondly, be supportive and informative with your child: let's talk about what happened at school or after-school today; find out who was involved in this incident together (e.g., if any other children witnessed), how long ago did this happen? Are you okay? (Continue reading for the full list on Questions To Ask About Bullying In School..)
Thirdly, be aware! Educate yourself on topics like cyberbullying, self-harm, child/teen depression, and how to engage with your child in a communicative way so you can be informed and act as a parent. Many children build a wall whilst being bullied to help protect themselves and in many cases they don’t speak out in fear, as they are afraid that this communication may lead to even more bullying.
How to stop the bullies?
- Start by telling your parents or another trusted adult
- Talk to a counselor at school
- Tell the bully that you don't like what they are doing and ask them to stop
- If bullying continues, tell an authority figure in school
- Keep a record of all bullying incidents on paper and show it to adults when needed
- Don't retaliate with violence - talk about how bullying makes you feel instead and try to connect on a personal level
- Explain to the bully that what they are doing is hurtful and nobody deserves to be treated that way
- Get video or audio proof of any incidents of bullying that have happened
- Try to befriend the bully as to get on their good side and show them that bullying is not okay as a friend or otherwise
- Walk away and ignore them at all costs (as most bullies want a reaction)
- Find safety in your friend group and adults (there is safety in numbers)
- Block the bully or bullies on social media and online platforms
- Contact the police if you have been harassed or assaulted
- Be extremely nice and “kill them with kindness” as they say
- Take self-defense lessons or join a sport like karate, boxing, jujitsu, etc.
- Reach out to the bullies parents directly and tell them what their child is doing to you
- Don’t listen to any rumors that may be started to try and harm you or illicit a reaction
- Just remember that you will get through it and you can get help
What are examples of cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully others. It affects everyone, but it's most common in schools and online spaces like bullying on social media networks with chat rooms or profiles because these are places where kids spend a lot their time on digital devices without adult supervision. This can be done through social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as dating websites such as Tinder and Grindr. An example of cyber bullying would be when someone posts mean comments on your pictures, make sup rumors about you, shares inappropriate events with others, messages one directly with threats or harassment or posts rude things about you.
Another example of cyber bullying would be sharing inappropriate images without the consent of the person in them: whether they are taken in a public place or privately in their bedroom, and even if they weren't supposed to be shared with the world at large.
Some examples could also include stealing online identities and/or hacking into people's accounts for the purpose of stealing and distributing personal or private information. Cyber bullying can also include publicly posting sensitive material such as someone's address, phone number, and/or social security information without their consent; threatening violence or harm to a person or to that person's friends and family, hacking into accounts for the purpose of forwarding embarrassing messages or personal information to other contacts without permission; cyberbullying can be directed at adults as well as children; cyberbullying has also been linked to many teenage suicide cases.
What should you do if you are being bullied
Keep your head high
Be kind to everyone, even the bullies
Tell an adult if something happens to you
Ignore them and walk away when they act like a bully
Don't let them get in your head or make you feel bad about yourself
What are signs that my child is being bullied?
While it does not represent an exhaustive list, here are some signs that a child is being bullied at school:
- Hesitating to go to school, swapping the word 'friends' for 'acquaintances' or avoids making new friends altogether
- One minute they're lively and happy and the next, morose and moody (this could be because their mood swings are exacerbated by bullying)
- Tearful about going to school; dreading meeting up with peers; telling stories that don't ring true – or seem overly dramatic – of feeling at the bottom of the pecking order.
- Eating or sleeping less; signs of depression (sudden loss of interest in school work, hobbies, friends etc)
- Child reports feeling ill/faints at school; complains about headaches/stomach ache/dizziness
- Complains about bullying but when questioned further lacks detail. This could be because the child is embarrassed and doesn't know how to describe what happened in a way that would make sense.
- Becomes more clumsy; trips over frequently; fails in exams or loses things. They may also lose their appetite or show signs of bedwetting.
- Loses clothing/valuables such as watches, phones etc
- Redirected hostility (e.., gets into fights, deliberately damages property, breaks rules, contradicts teachers or other children)
- Truancy; loss of interest in school work/declining grades; signs of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) such as chewing fingernails, pulling out hair or lining up objects. This could be because the child is stressed and needs order to stop the confusion in their head.
- Use of drugs, tobacco or alcohol
- Avoidance of social situations
If you see signs like these, talk to your child about bullying on an open level. Asking them specific questions can elicit further signs that would otherwise go unnoticed. Ask how often things happen, did they happen verbally or physically and who was involved including any bystanders who saw what happened. If there are signs of depression, make sure to get the child help and advise them on coping mechanisms such as art therapy and mindfulness.
Remember: signs that your child is being bullied can be difficult to spot. It's important for children to know that bullying isn't their fault and that you're there for them no matter what. There are signs however which can be more telling than others so if you think your child is being bullied it's worth having a conversation with them about it.
Increased anxiety, curling up into a ball/ fetal position for no reason when you're trying to be affectionate with them, crying for no obvious reasons after they've been bullied at school or getting into trouble more often then they typically would. Kids have unique personalities and all the examples of bullying could vary from person to person. Bullying may be happening either face-to-face or online. Also, their grades and spending time alone on devices can be a sign of bullying either at school or through technology.
Extreme changes in behavior such as anger outbursts, depression, withdrawal from friends and activities they were previously interested in may also indicate that your kid is being bullied.
Warning signs of a potential bully
There are several warning signs that may indicate a person is becoming or has become a bully. These include, but aren't limited to:
- Telling people what they want to hear instead of the truth
- Using others for their personal gain and pleasure without regard for consequences
- Lying in order not to get caught when doing something wrong
- Destroying property
- Harming living creatures such as wildlife or pets
- Increased anger or frustration
- Disregard for rules or laws
- Lack of care and respect of boundaries of other people
- Rude behavior and language use
How to tell if my child is being bullied?
Ask your child what they're doing at school and who they've been hanging out with. It's important to know what's going on with them so you can help them.
If your child is being bullied, it's important for you to know where they spend their time outside of school. Where do they hang out with their friends? Do they have any social media profiles that may provide clues into what might be going on in their lives? If you're concerned about bullying, monitor the places and spaces in which your child spends time.
Also look out for any mental or physical sings of abuse and assault. Such as increased stress, anxiety, depression or cuts, bruises, scrapes, etc.
Questions To Ask About Bullying In School
Below we’ve created a list of questions to ask in order to help find out if your child is being bullied or if your child is being a bully to others.
How is it going at school? Are you hanging out with anyone new? Who are you spending time with?
What do you like about them? What don't you like about them? How do they treat other people (not just you)?
How are you feeling about school? What is good about it? What isn't so good?
What do you like to do at school? Outside of school, what are your favorite things to do?
Are you being treated badly by anyone?
Are you feeling stressed or anxious? What is making you feel these emotions?
If you're concerned your child might be bullying others
Here are some questions you can ask:
I've heard that some kids are bullying other children at school. Have you seen anything like that happen?
I have heard people have been telling lies about __________ . Have you seen or heard anything about this?
Do you know who is doing the bullying? Do they target anyone in particular or just lots of different kids?
Why do think they're being bullied? What have you seen or heard?
Does anything happen online with these kids? Do they talk to each other through messaging apps, blogs, social media profiles etc.?
What does that person do when they are being bullied?
What do you wish would happen that would stop them from being bullied at school?
Do you know if any kids at school are talking about what's going on with this person? Have you heard any gossip or rumors about the situation?
Do any of your friends know anything that may help me understand what's going on here better?
Is there anybody you really dislike? Why do you dislike them?
Helpful Questions To Ask Yourself As A Parent
Am I asking my child enough questions about their lives outside of school? Do I know what's going on with them when they're at school?
When I ask my child questions about what's going on outside of school, how does he/she respond? Do they seem willing to talk to me or do I feel like they clam up or get upset?
Am I asking enough questions about what's going on at school? What are they/their friends doing when I'm not with them?
Am I asking enough questions about what's going on socially in my child's circle of friends? Do they know who is bullying whom and why it's happening?
Do I need to ask more questions to understand how serious or widespread the bullying is?
How does my child behave when they come home from school? Do they seem sad or upset or withdrawn?
Does my child seem to have friends at school? If so, how does he/she feel about them?
How are things going outside of school, with family and friends? Are there any issues that may be upsetting my child or causing problems in his/her life?
Are there problems happening in my own life that might be upsetting or difficult for my child? If so, how can I help them with these struggles and bring more positivity into their lives?
Am I being a positive role model for my child throughout the day? Is my language, tone of voice and body language coming across in a positive way?
Am I communicating with my child in ways that are supportive and helpful? Do they know that I love them, no matter what is happening at school or in their lives outside of school?
What behaviors are you seeing in your child that seem out of the ordinary?
Is my child being quiet or withdrawn at home or with friends?
Do I have to constantly prod for information about what's going on at school, who they're hanging out with and what their social life is like?
Is my child spending more time alone or in their room?
Do they seem to be having a harder time making or keeping friends at school?
Do their grades drop or are they showing a lack of interest in school in any other way?
Am I seeing warning signs that my child could be bullying others? If so, how can I make sure to help them stop the behavior?
Our Conclusion On Bullying
Bullying is a problem that plagues schools and workplaces all over the world. Whether we’re talking about children being bullied at school, adults being bullied at work, or even cyberbullying happening in our own social media feeds, this issue impacts people of all ages and walks of life. It can be so debilitating to deal with bullying on an individual level as well as from those around you. If you found yourself cringing while reading through these scenarios because they reminded you of your experience—or if you recognize someone else who needs help coping with their abusive situation—it might be time for action and share this article for others to be aware!
One of the most important things to remember is that no matter what your age, gender, sexuality, religion, race, etc., you are not alone. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness by everyone—and you will find that if you intervene on behalf of others who might not know how to defend themselves. Seek help from professional psychologists or psychiatrists if you or someone you know is experiencing depression, stress, or anxiety due to bullying.
Please contact the suicide prevention hotline [ 1-800-273-8255 ] if you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/