“Sticks and Stones May break my bones…”

“Sticks and Stones May break my bones…”

 bullying 2By Cinthia Jahnsen

 

A look into bullying, its effects and how we can help.

 

We have all heard the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”. I remember saying that to kids who were teasing me or saying hurtful things as a kid. But the truth is, words do hurt. And believe it or not, words can have a longer lasting effect than the “sticks and stones”. So why is it so hard for kids (and sometimes us adults) to remember to speak kindly and be nice?

 

Bullying has been around forever. I think in the past bullying was not a verb but a noun. She is a bully or he is a bully. But now days, schools, educators and families are taking bullying very seriously. The subject of bullying seems to have been a growing topic in todays world. Perhaps it is the increased news coverage of teen suicides or perhaps TV shows such as glee, or movies like mean girls have really intensified what we perceive as the goings on at our children schools. We no longer can brush aside bullying behavior as, “kids being kids” or brushing things off as unimportant. As a parent, it is important to know how empower your child with the tools needed to be strong, full of self-confidence and ways to protect themselves from the bullies that will come and go inevitable throughout their whole lives. There will always be the bully at work, at school, at the office, at the store and children and parents need to know how to handle sticky situations.

 

Who is bullied?

 

Bullying can happen to anyone no matter race, gender, or popularity.

 

Research shows that over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying and 16,000 teens skip school because of bullying each day. Bullying is not just physical aggression it can be verbal physical or cyber. Bullying does not occur to only one gender but comes in all shapes and sizes, male and female, popular or unpopular. Bullies can one day be a friend and the next day form groups that are dedicated to ridicule and tease this so called “friend”. We all remember the childhood and high school drama (whether we want to or not) we went through as kids. As much as we wish times have changed enough to prevent the same cruel behavior to happen to our own children, this is not the case. At least when we were kids, you could have a safe haven at home where you could escape the negativity, but with cyber-bullying becoming more and more of an issue, there is almost no where to run.

 

What is Bullying?

 

Bullying is more than stealing lunch money. There is psychical, verbal, relational and cyber bullying.

 

Although, most people think of bullying as psychical aggression, a lot of bullying is done behind the scenes in forms of verbal abuse, friendship drama, and cyber bullying. Here are a few forms of bullying you may have not noticed before:

 

Psychical: Psychical bullying includes hitting, pushing, spitting, taking other possessions, or stealing lunch or lunch money. Psychical bullying is more often done by boys than girls.

 

Verbal: Verbal bullying can be anything from name calling to taunting and constant teasing. It can also be in the form of eye rolling or hostile facial expressions.

 

Relational: Relational bullying is intentionally leaving someone out of a group, exclusion, ostracizing, spreading gossip and rumors or defaming a persons reputation. Relational bullying is more often done by girls than boys.

 

Cyber: Cyber-bullying is becoming more and more of a problem in recent years due to the number of children with access to the internet and involvement in social media sights such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Cyber-bulling, unlike other forms of bullying, has no escape and has long lasting hurtful effects. According to the U.S. Department of Education one out of every four students (22%) report being bullied during the school year.

 

Effects of Bullying

 

Don’t just brush it off. Bullying can have long term effects.

 

As a parent, I need to help and coach my child through difficult relationship issues in order for them to find success in dealing with hard situations in the future. Not all cases of mean behavior are considered bullying. We all are aware of times where we have said unkind words, or have spoken in anger and later realized our mistakes and tried to rectify them. Bullying is mean, rude, and hurtful behavior, but it is most likely true bullying when it happens on a regular basis. Studies have suggested some problems children can develop and take with them into adulthood as a bully victim. But not only are victims at risk, those who are the bully are at risk for adult maladjustment as well.

 

The victim:

Social Anxiety

Coping

Self-blame

Depression

Anxiety

Low self-esteem

Poor school adjustment

Sleep difficulties

 

The Bully:

Academic problems

Substance abuse

Violent behavior late in adolescents and adulthood

 

Intervention is key

 

Make a difference, and stand up for what is right.

 

Isn’t it interesting that peers have such a strong influence over their friends at school? Did you know the majority of bullying incidences can be stopped when a peer intervenes on a victims behalf? That is more effective than a teacher, parent or principle intervening. Children and youth have a strong influence on those around them even if they don’t know it. Words like, “Leave him alone”, “Stop it!”, or “Come on, let’s get out of here.” can help stop bullying and reduce the risk of reoccurrence. According to the “The Youth Voice Research Project: Victimization and Strategies” “students who experience bullying report that allying and supportive actions from their peers (such as spending time with the student, talking to him/her, helping him/her get away, or giving advice) were the most helpful actions from bystanders. Students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer actions more helpful than an educator or self-actions.”

 

On the flip side, if parents and teachers really want to help the best way is to be available to listen and follow through. The most unhelpful and potentially harmful thing a teacher or parent can do in bullying situations is tell the student to figure it out on their own, be told the bullying is being caused by the victims own behavior or by telling the student to stop tattling. Help your child, give them verbal resources and help them see the importance of helping others in times of need and stand up for their friends and peers in bullying situations.

 

Parents and teachers roles

 

Be a support and be a friend to your child. They need your help, example and listening ear.

 

If your child is a victim of bullying, help them to know they are loved, and don’t ignore the problem. If your child is the bully, help them to see the consequences of their actions and coach them through that as well. Considering the evidence behind bullying and its effects on children, it is clear that children, parents, families and schools would benefit from looking beyond just tattling, girls being girls and boys being boys, and looking more deeply into the issues and really listening, and talking to your child. You can make a difference and so can your child.

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