What is Bullying?
Bullying is persistent, intentional, physical or verbal aggression that involves an imbalance of power.
Bullies target those they think are weaker than they are. Children also may be singled out for bullying because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, because they have a disability, or because they’re from a different race, culture or religion.
Bullying does not just take place at school. It can happen at home as well, when one brother or sister consistently torments another. In some cases, sibling rivalry can be just as serious as bullying that occurs outside the home and can contribute to the child becoming either a bullying victim or a bully at school.
How Is Bullying Different From Other Types of Conflicts?
Children often have conflicts with each other. Bullying is distinct from other types of conflict because the child who is bullying is trying to gain power through intentional and continuous harassment, such as taunts, physical violence and/or social isolation.
Is This a Serious Situation?
Yes. In different eras, bullying was seen as a rite of passage for children. That is no longer the case.
Research shows that there is a strong correlation between child suicides and being the victim of bullying or the bully. In the majority of school shootings over the past 25 years, bullying played a “key role in the decision to attack,” according to a U.S. Secret Service study.
Even when bullying situations don’t seem that extreme, being bullied can cause academic and social problems that affect children’s ability to reach their potential.
Signs A Child May Be Being Bullied
Many times, children won’t tell their parents that they’re being bullied because they’re ashamed or are afraid of retaliation if they tell an adult what’s happening. That’s why it’s important to be alert for signs that something is wrong. Does your child:
- Come home with bruises, cuts, ripped clothing, or missing belongings?
- Refuse to go to school or frequently complain of stomachaches, headaches or other illnesses that necessitate staying home?
- Show a sudden loss of interest in school and schoolwork?
- Appear depressed and moody and become tearful for no reason?
- Seem socially isolated, with few friends?
- Rush to the bathroom after getting home from school? Bullying often takes place in the school bathroom because adults aren’t present and it’s easy to block the exit.
- Get in trouble at school? At times, the child who is being bullied lashes out in response.