Every day thousands of teens wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end.
Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing. Yet because parents, teachers, and other adults don't always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.
Two of the main reasons people are bullied are because of appearance and social status. Bullies pick on the people they think don't fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act (for example, kids who are shy and withdrawn), their race or religion.
Some bullies attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting, or even sexual assault. Others use psychological control or verbal insults to put themselves in charge. For example, people in popular groups or cliques often bully people they categorize as different by excluding them or gossiping about them (psychological bullying). They may also taunt or tease their targets (verbal bullying).
Verbal bullying can also involve sending cruel instant or email messages or even posting insults about a person on a website — practices that are known as cyberbullying.
What Parents Can Do To Help
Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed, worry that their parents will be disappointed or feel like it's their fault. They may fear that if the bully finds out that they told someone, the bullying will get worse.
If your child is being bullied, offer support. Praise your teen for having the courage to tell you about it. Remind them that they aren't alone. Emphasize that it's the bully who is behaving badly - not them. Reassure them that you will figure out what to do about it together.
- Sometimes it's useful to approach the bully's parents throught a school official, such as a counselor. In other cases, teachers or counselors are the best ones to contact. If you have serious concerns about your child's safety, contact legal authorities.