Unfortunately, bullying is a hot topic in the news. Families and communities are searching for ways to end bullying among children. In order to “bully proof” young people, children and adults must first identify bullying and then learn socially appropriate skills that nurture emotional intelligence about bullying.
Bullying can often be identified in the following ways:
• Purposeful behavior that hurts or harms another person physically or emotionally.
• The target (person being bullied) has difficulty stopping the behavior and struggles to defend himself/herself.
• Repetitive exposure over time.
• An imbalance of power (physical strength, access to embarrassing information or popularity) that is used to control or harm others.
• Lack of remorse by “bully” and/or blaming the target for causing the conflict.
There are three types of bullying:
1. Verbal bullying: malicious teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, or threats.
2. Social bullying: excluding others, isolating someone by telling others “not to be their friend”, spreading rumors, or embarrassing someone.
3. Physical bullying: hitting, spitting, punching, or pushing.
In addition to identifying bullying, children must also be taught how to react to difficult situations or understand how their individual actions can affect others.
The following suggestions are from the Bullying-Proofing Your Child Guide by Carla Garrity, Ph.D., Kathryn Jens, Ph.D., William Porter, Ph.D., Nancy Sager, M.A. and Cam Short-Camilli, L.C.S.W.:
1. Listen to your child and validate his or her feelings about issues that make him or her feel uncomfortable.
2. Let children know it is not their fault. Bullied children may often blame themselves.
3. Listen carefully to the social context of events. Explore how your child felt during the situation.
4. Strategize different ways to handle situations together. Some examples: don’t react, walk away, avoid being alone or near the person who is bullying, call the person out on their behavior (“What would make you say something so hurtful?”).
5. Role play with your child different scenarios and appropriate ways to respond.
6. Teach your child to stand up for others when a peer is being harassed.
7. Teach your child to report uncomfortable events to a parent, teacher or trusted adult.
8. Provide opportunities for your child to develop relationships with others.
For more information, contact Monica Sanchez at 305-597-4545 or email her at monica.sanchez@ dslca.org