Bullying & Cyberbullying
What is Bullying?
Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent and aggressive behavior directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.
The Markers of Bullying
- Intent to harm
- An imbalance of power
- Threat of further aggression
- Witnessing a victim’s distress
Signs of Victimization
- Fear of going to school
- Lack of friends
- Missing belongings
- Drop in grades
- Acting out of character
- Torn or missing clothing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Change in appetite
Bulling can be perpetrated by individuals or groups and can include many different behaviors such as:
- Physical assault
- Exclusion from peer group
- Responding with avoidance or anger to any questioning
- Verbal taunts, name calling, and spreading rumors
- Hostile, threatening or obscene body gestures
- Stealing of money and possessions (extortion)
- Threats and intimidation
- Lack of empathy towards others
Who is Involved?
The Bully: Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Boys and girls are equally likely to be bullies.
The Bullied: The one thing that all kids who are bullied have in common is that a bully or a group of bullies has targeted them.
The Bystander: Bystanders are those who aid the bully by doing nothing. They stand idly by or look away, or they can actively encourage the bully or join in and become one of the group of bullies.
The bystander is key in the prevention of bullying. Encourage your child to report bullying when he/she sees it.
How to Report Bullying
- Arrange a meeting for you and your child with the teacher and/or principal.
- Bring to the meeting the facts in writing (who, what, where, when, why, and how).
- Work with your child and school personnel on a plan that addresses what your child needs right now in order to feel safe, what he/she can do to avoid being bullied and to stand up to future bullying, and who he/she can go to for help.
- Be patient. The school might need some time to investigate and check on what has been said.
- If you are not aware of it, ask about the school’s Code of Student Conduct or Code of Behavior.
- Arrange for a follow-up meeting or phone call.
Parents can be generally unaware of the extent of the bullying and victimization problems. For these reasons, you may be uncertain how to prevent bullying. You are one of the most important persons in the prevention of bullying. Become aware and work on the problem with your child and the school.
What to do if Your Child is Aggressive or Bullies Others
- Talk to your child. Don’t blame. Stay calm and make it clear that bullying is NOT acceptable.
- Discuss with your child the negative impact that bullying has on the victim(s). Teach EMPATHY.
- Talk and listen to your child. Share information with his/her teacher(s) and school administration. Keep the lines of communication open between school and home.
- Be willing to attend any interviews with school to modify your child’s behavior.
- Keep a written record (who, what, where, why, when, and how).
- Praise the efforts that your child makes toward non-violent and responsible behavior.
- Ensure a consistent approach for consequences between home and school.
- Consequences should be clear, age appropriate and logical, NOT punitive.
Source: Adapted from The Bully Free Classroom, Allan L. Beane.
What is CyberBullying?
CyberBullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by a peer using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.
Prevent Being a Victim of CyberBullying.
- Only share your password with your parent/guardian.
- Change your passwords often.
- Set your page and blog to private.
- Keep your personal information page private.
How Much Information is Too Much?
- Use a nickname that doesn’t identify your gender, age or location.
- Think before posting or sending photos–they could be used to hurt you now and/or in the future.
- Alter your pictures before you post them to remove identifying information.
- Don’t post your plans or whereabouts online.
- Never meet in person with anyone you meet online.
- Think about the real-life consequences of what you post.
CyberBullying Tips: Parents
- Keep your home computer in easily viewable places, such as family room or kitchen.
- Talk regularly with your child about online activities that he or she is involved.
- Talk specifically about CyberBullying and encourage your child to tell you immediately if he or she is a victim.
- Encourage your child to tell you if he or she is aware of others who may be the victims of such behavior.
- Explain that CyberBullying is a harmful and unacceptable behavior. Outline your expectations for responsible online behavior and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate behavior.
- Although adults must respect the privacy of their children, concerns for your child’s safety may sometimes override these privacy concerns. Tell your child that you may review his or her online communications if you think there is reason or concern.
- Consider installing parental control filtering software and/or tracking programs, but don’t rely solely on these tools.
- Contact your local law enforcement or Cyber Tipline if: 1. You find child pornography on the computer; 2. Your child has received sexually explicit images or communication and; 3. Your child has been sexually solicited by someone first met online.
- Keep all evidence.
CyberBullying Tips: Teens
- Ignore harassing or rude comments posted on your profile.
- Save or print all evidence.
- Tell and adult you trust.
- Try to identify the individual doing the bullying.
- Block future contact if possible.
- Change your account.
- Call the police if the contact involves violence, stalking, child pornography, sexual solicitation, obscene calls or text messages.