Bullying: What You Need to Know

Written by Melanie Howard

It causes children to cry, and parents to panic. It happens on our playgrounds, in our homes, at our schools, and even in our churches. A child can become a victim when she turns on her computer. Bullying is a widespread form of victimization and abuse.

Bullying is intentional, aggressive behavior that intimidates, belittles, or physically harms another person.

Bullying involves an imbalance of power. The bully is often an older, bigger, or more popular child. The victim is usually a younger, smaller child, or a child with fewer friends.

Bullying can affect victims in many ways:
• Children become depressed, lonely, and anxious, and to develop low self-esteem. 
• Children report more frequent health problems such as headaches, stomach complaints, and sleep problems. 
• Children suffer in their schoolwork. 
• Even children who simply observe bullying—without themselves being a target—can become fearful and distracted.

The most common types of bullying include
• verbal bullying: threats, name-calling, relentless teasing, spreading rumors, and unwelcome sexual comments
• physical bullying: hitting, kicking, or shoving
• exclusion bullying: intentionally preventing another child from participating in group activities

While boys and girls both may experience verbal bullying, boys are more likely to be the target of physical bullying. Exclusion bullying, also known as “Queen Bee Bullying,” is more common among girls, who often exclude one another socially and gossip among themselves.

Recent technology has created new ways for children to bully others. Cyber-bullying, a form of verbal abuse, involves harassment through the use of instant messages, emails, and messages posted on public Web sites. It can also occur via pictures or text messages sent on cell phones.

If you suspect that your child or another child is being bullied, take action:

Listen closely to your child. Take seriously what she shares with you. Show empathy and concern. Ask your child what happened, who was involved, and where it happened.

Alert other adults who can support your child. If the bullying occurred at school, alert your child’s teacher, the school counselor, and/or the principal. If the bullying occurred at an extracurricular or church activity, alert the leaders of this activity.

Take steps to prevent future bullying. Help children understand that every person is created in the image of God.

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