Bullying comes in many forms
Today, bullying goes beyond the playground push or punch, as bullies use taunts and teasing—and online tactics—to attack their victims. But drawing the line between a little razzing between classmates and more damaging bullying can be tricky. Generally, bullying is considered aggressive behaviour that keeps happening, where the victim feels like the bully has more power than he or she does. And contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with anger. “It’s about contempt—a powerful feeling of dislike towards someone considered to be worthless, inferior, or undeserving of respect,” says parenting expert Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied and the Not-so-Innocent Bystander. According to Coloroso, bullies often feel a sense of entitlement and are intolerant of differences in others.
Research shows that one in four students reported being bullied—with 79 per cent reporting verbal harassment, and half saying they felt they were harassed or excluded socially, according to a survey by the student-focused non-profit group YouthTruth. And bullying victims face a number of long-term consequences, including an increased risk of suicide and poorer overall health into adulthood, according to research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. (If you or someone you know has had thoughts of self-harm or suicide, visit lifeline.org.au or call their hotline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or in New Zealand, visit lifeline.org.nz or call 0800 LIFELINE (0800 543 354) or text HELP (4357) for free support.) Learn more about the damage sibling bullying can do.
Verbal taunts and social bullying may be the most common, but physical bullying still happens—and 29 per cent of teens say they’ve encountered it, according to the YouthTruth Survey. If your child comes home with bruises, cuts, scratches, or other injuries, “don’t tell your child to fight back,” says Coloroso. “Remind them that it’s not their fault, and report the bullying to school personnel.” Parents, learn how to stop sibling rivalry—which can lead to bullying—before it starts.
Using electronic devices less—or more—than usual
If your child used to be glued to her smartphone, and now has it shut down constantly—or if your child seems to be anxiously checking the internet, it might be a sign that they’re one of the 36.5 per cent of children who reported being cyberbullied, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. If you suspect your child might be at risk of online bullying, teach them this important acronym: SCBT, says Coloroso. SCBT stands for:
Stop. Don’t respond.
Copy. Make copies of all messages and pictures, and save mobile phone text and voice messages.
Block or filter communications through IM contact list, email, or social media apps.
Tell a trusted adult.