Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me…
I remember hearing these words many times growing up. I also remember saying them when kids called me names as I hoped they would just leave me alone. But, contrary to how the saying goes, the words did hurt, and they hurt deeply. Today, in many schools across the country, sticks and stones may break bones AND words DO hurt our children.
What is Bullying?
There are misconceptions about what bullying is and what it isn’t, as well as the effects it has on kids. Some think that bullying is limited to physical actions like hitting, kicking, and pushing. But bullying can involve physical and/or verbal attacks. Often overlooked forms of verbal bullying include social/relational bullying, cyberbullying, and name calling. Yes – name calling is a form of bullying. Cyberbullying is on the rise and is particularly troubling because the bully may be anonymous. Bullying occurs when there is an imbalance in power – one person gains power over another – and that can occur physically and/or verbally.
How Bullying Impacts Kids
The effects of bullying will vary based on the severity of bullying and the individual who is bullied. The following are typical ways that bullying can affect kids.
- Grades drop
- No interest in doing things they once enjoyed
- Low self-esteem
- Become introverted
- In some cases, as the bullied kid gets older, he becomes a bully
How to Address Bullying
Physical bullying can be easier to identify because there may be visual signs. Because the effects of verbal bullying can’t be seen, it may be harder to stop. When a child tells a grownup that she has been teased, it is easy for the adult to say, “just ignore it”, but this is not a solution. It is also detrimental to think that kids should be able to handle a situation when they reach a certain age. Every child, pre-teen, and teen is different, and the way individuals handle situations is also different. The best way for parents to address bullying is to be educated and involved. Here are some great tips on http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/index.html how to prevent bullying and http://www.stopbullying.gov/respond/index.html how to respond to bullying.