Posts Tagged ‘bullying’
Bullying has been around since man started forming relationships. It is inevitable. Unfortunately, in today’s society there seems to be so many more avenues for a bully to utilize to attack their prey. With all of the pressures our kids face day to day, it becomes difficult sometimes to recognize the warning signals of a bullie’s attack. This article is very helpful in making parents aware of some subtle signs to look for. I wish with all my heart that none of your children every suffer from the callousness of a bully. In the meantime, it’s a parent’s duty to be armed with all of the information they can to protect their child.
via Woman’s Day / Team Mom – Yahoo! Shine
by Dawn Papandrea
Your child would tell you if he’s being bullied, right? Maybe not. “It’s painful to say, ‘I’m being targeted,’” says Cynthia Lowen, producer and writer of the documentary film, Bully, and co-author of the forthcoming book The Essential Guide to Bullying. While there’s more bullying awareness than ever (who hasn’t heard about the bullied bus matron?), children still fear their parents’ response to the harassment can make the situation worse, says Lowen. Another reason kids may keep this info to themselves: “They may worry that admitting they’re victims will disappoint their parents,” says Jerry Weichman, PhD, a licensed psychologist specializing in teens and tweens at California’s Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, CA, and author of How to Deal. That’s why it’s important to know how to spot the signs of bullying, which aren’t as obvious as you’d think. Here are some surprising red flags to look for.
1. Sharing bullying euphemisms
When you ask your child about his day, and he says there’s “drama” at school or kids were “messing around,” it could be code for “I’m being bullied,” explains Cindy Miller, a New Jersey-based licensed school social worker, psychotherapist and Lowen’s co-author on The Essential Guide to Bullying. If you hear that language often, ask for specifics, she suggests. For instance: “When you say ‘messing around,’ did anyone get physical with you? Did someone spread a rumor about you or call you a name? How did you feel when the ‘drama’ occurred?”
If your child still doesn’t open up, tell him the difference between reporting and tattling. “Reporting is stating that someone’s hurting you and you’re trying to get help. Tattling is trying to get someone in trouble,” says Miller. This way, he knows there’s nothing wrong about giving facts.
2. Coming home hungry
Before you assume your little luncher is simply sick of PB&J, consider what else might be going on in the cafeteria. Perhaps another student is taking his food. Or maybe your child is giving away items voluntarily to become better-liked-or avoiding eating because he fears being ridiculed about his weight or what he’s eating, says Miller. Again, asking direct questions in a non-threatening way here is key, says Lowen. Try: “Who did you sit with at lunch today? Did you like your food? What did you and your friends talk about?”
3. Coming home from school late
You may think he’s hanging out with friends, but he may be taking a longer route home or skipping the bus to avoid bullies, says Miller. A change in after-school routine is how Tara Kennedy Kline of Shoemakersville, PA, realized something wasn’t right. “He started calling me from the bus and asking me if his older buddies could come to our house after school,” she says. Normally, her son was only allowed to have friends over after homework was done, and not at all if his parents weren’t home. “Blatantly disregarding our rule was a red flag for us,” she says. Soon after, she learned about a bullying incident that happened on the bus. So trust your instincts and dig deeper if your child does something out of character.
4. Frequently losing or damaging his things
Sure, kids can be careless and clumsy, but missing or torn/broken belongings can be signs of bullying. “Bookbags getting ripped. Someone takes something. Shoes thrown out of the window of the bus. These are all things bullied kids have told me happened to them,” says Lowen. What’s worse is that children are afraid to tell their parents about things like broken glasses in tough economic times, she says. Lowen also points out that some children give possessions away to win favor with the popular kids. “Parents should keep an account of what’s missing and follow up on their child’s excuse with other parents, teachers or school administrators,” suggests Dr. Weichman. If there’s a discrepancy between your child’s excuse and the explanation an adult gives, your child may be covering for someone’s bad behavior.
5. Becoming upset after getting a text or going online
In the age of cyber-bullying, the end of a school day doesn’t always offer taunted kids a reprieve. “If a parent suspects that cyber-bullying may be going on, she should first confront her child with her concerns, but also verify with monitoring software,” advises Dr. Weichman. Beyond using parental spyware, it’s important to keep computers in common areas at home, such as in the kitchen or family room, says Lowen. “If your child is in his bedroom for two hours and a situation is getting larger than life, he can feel like the entire world is turning on him,” she warns. And it’s hard to prevent your child from responding negatively if you can’t see the situation unfolding.
6. Wearing long sleeves all the time or covering up when it doesn’t seem warranted
Don’t shrug off your child’s desire to keep covered as shyness or a fashion statement. There might be visible signs of physical bullying he’s trying to conceal. And here’s why: “One reaction that parents often have is, ‘you have to stand up for yourself’ or ‘hit him back,’” says Lowen. But a child may not be capable of or willing to follow that advice, so he hides bruises and cuts rather than face his parents’ judgment. If you suspect your child is hiding injuries, don’t react in a shocked or confrontational manner. Phrases such as “Tell me who did this to you right now!” should be avoided, says Dr. Weichman. Instead, put on your poker face and ask what’s going on that might have contributed to the injuries.
7. Disappearing friends
Most parents know who their children pal around with: who calls every night, who they join forces with for school projects, who’s sleeping over. If the usual suspects are MIA, it might be more than the clique simply growing apart. “If your child’s circle suddenly isn’t around, ask, ‘Where are your friends? What are they doing?’” suggests Lowen. When the Mishra family moved back to their old neighborhood in North Carolina, their teen daughter was excited to reconnect with her grammar-school friends. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. “One former friend decided she didn’t like my daughter anymore and told the host of an upcoming party that my? child shouldn’t be invited,” says Mishra. “That was when I realized that this was not harmless ?jealousy but outright bullying.” Mishra’s daughter is now considering moving in with ?her grandparents in Michigan for her senior year.
8. Claiming that after-school activities were cancelled or practice ended early
Cancellations happen, but if they’re happening a lot, your child may be hiding that he’s dropped out of an activity because of bullying. Changes in routine and a loss of interest in favorite hobbies are usually good indicators that something’s amiss. “Kids send out distress signals when they’re in trouble,” says Miller. It’s up to you to stay attuned, and get your child to open up. And when he clues you in, keep two things in mind. “You have to believe him, and it’s probably worse than he’s letting on,” says Lowen.
Whether or not you spot these signs in your child, start an open dialogue about bullying so he knows you can be counted on, says Dr. Weichman. “Kids need to be reassured that sharing what’s going on with their parents is both safe and non-judgmental.”
Photo credit: Thinkstock
I think it’s essential to define teasing from the start. Teasing has been a part of society from its inception. It happens when one individual zeroes in on a target and proceeds to make it obvious to that person and the world the way in which they are different or react differently to others in the same situation. They take advantage of their target’s attention and twist it so the result pokes fun at, mocks, or humiliates them. In every scenario there is an inbalance of power. The teaser rising as the person in control and the teased subjected to being a victim.
There are varying levels of teasing. Some may be considered harmless, childlike and so thought to have little effect. Something this “silly” surely will not stick with its target. As the level of teasing intensifies it grows into bullying and harrasment with the sole purpose of making the target feel some level of social rejection, shame, humiliation, lack of power, and despair. At this level the teasing has escalated into its most evil form. One that borders on criminal and sometimes even falls into that realm.
What I am talking about now is the supposed light-hearted teasing that occurs daily among family, friends, and acquaintances. Its affect hits home across all ages, but for now, let’s stick with kids.
The acceptance of teasing is probably based on your own specific background. Nature/nurture – what was ever allowed in your social circle, family, school, etc. has most likely become your standard for evaluating the effectiveness and result of teasing. If you grew up where teasing was a normal part of your household you are less likely to connect to its negative effects on its target. You will be able to register that the teasing has hit home, but be unable to empathize with the potential pain left behind. You may think that teasing is all in fun. It grows character. But for those who let teasing roll off them without adverse effects, there are scores of others who are left with scars instead of an upgraded character. Yes, something as “simple” as teasing can have a monumental effect on certain people. They carry that emotional baggage around for the rest of their lives.
When a child learns the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad and the like they start to recognize the things that hurt. Everyone wants to feel safe and protected. A child will instinctively go to a parent or guardian hoping that the trust they have in them will protect them. Protect them from things in the world around them that they may not understand just yet. Protect them from things they’ve learned to fear based on past experiences. Safety. Protection. For your child, or any child, that is not too much to expect from an adult.
So now you should be able to recognize teasing. I hope that as adults you already can distinguish it from normal conversation and child’s play. The next step is to examine the state of the child targeted. Are they laughing along with the teaser? Is it actually that light-hearted? Is there a back and forth foray of teasing? Perhaps they truly are only kidding around with each other this time. No harm, no foul. When it’s over do they continue to play and interact as before or can you see a difference in the way they treat each other? Most likely the teaser is feeling great. They are loving life picking on the other kid. How is the target doing? Can you see the sting of the taunts? Even a slight twinge of a sting is not good.
OK, you see there’s been a direct hit. What do you do? Act immediately, if possible, to dilute the hurt. Explain that teasing is not acceptable. Explain how it hurts. The child who is targeted needs to be given the skills to cope. Explain to them that they have the ability to react in many different ways to being teased. They can accept it as truth and let it become a part of who they they think they are as a person, or they can learn to ignore it and stop it. As the adult you should be aware of the warning signs that your child is being teased.
Some signs your child is being teased:
- Frequent bouts of passivity or not wanting to participate
- Crying when confronted with the prospect of being around certain people
- Making up symptoms to avoid certain people
- Cuts, scratches, bruises. Funny how they always happen when they’re playing with a certain person.
- Problems at school. Trouble learning or not wanting to attend school.
- A noticeable change in a child’s view of himself. Negativity, calling themselves a loser, feeling they have no worth and not capable of doing things.
Solving The Problem
If the teasing is happening at home:
- Be honest with yourself and how your family functions. If you’ve never given teasing a thought and therefore never disciplined against it, now is the time to acknowledge that teasing is not an acceptable tactic in you home. Now is the time to make some changes.
- If you see teasing taking place, intervene. Immediately. Stop the teasing before it escalates. Set the ground rules and the consequences and then live by those rules. No giving in. You are the parent. You set the rules. Period
If the teasing is happening in public, like on a playground:
- Intervene immediately. Initially to stop the teasing, but then to see if you can address the situation and use it as a learning tool to avoid teasing in the future.
- If you can, look for someone to intervene as a third party. A coach perhaps could be the one who talks to the group as a whole instead of segregating the
two parties involved. Make a lesson for the good of the whole group.
- Work with the other parent directly if possible. If it’s obvious that teasing is sanctioned by the other parent you are less likely to be able to strike a chord for peace. In this case it’s probably best to simply end the interaction between the two kids and move on. All the while demonstrating to your own child that it is possible to remain composed and calm in this situation and just walk away.
If the teasing is happening at school:
- Contact your child’s teacher.
- Relay any information you may have about the teasing. Tell the teacher what your child has told you. Follow up to be sure the issue has been addressed.
- If you actually notice the teasing while at school, bring it to the attention of your child’s teacher immediately.
- If you are contacted by your child’s teacher with speculation that your child is being teased, work with the teacher to alleviate the problem. Be available and willing to make adjustments if necessary.
- Talk to your child. Draw them out. Make them feel comfortable enough to tell you what is going on. Let them know you intend to do something about it.
- If you can’t resolve the problem working with the teacher, keep moving up the chain. Go the principal next and explain the situation.
- If everything you’ve tried to date fails – move your child to a different school if possible.
The worst thing you can do:
- Don’t acknowledge the teasing when your child tells you about it.
- Ignore the teasing if you see it firsthand thinking it is simple child’s play and has no effect.
- Encourage your child to react to teasing by teasing in return.
- Give up if your child has difficulty developing the skills to cope with teasing. They don’t have to “learn to live with it”.
- Refuse to step in when your child asks for help. As I’ve stated before your kids expect you to protect them and keep them safe. By not fulfilling that expectation you run the risk of you child feeling betrayed and abandoned.
Teasing may exist in every culture and has been around for centuries. That fact alone does not make it acceptable. Recognize the signs and act accordingly. Whether your child is the teaser or the target of teasing you have a job to do. As the parent it’s up to you to let your kids know what is and is not acceptable behavior. Give them the skills to cope. Make them a better person.
If you’d like to read more about teasing I’ve pulled a few links for you to check out:
- Bullying and Teasing: No Laughing Matter from scholastics.com
- Teasing Hints for Children from www.lehman.cuny.edu
- Helping Children Handle Teasing from parenting-ed.org
How do you handle teasing in your household? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? You can leave a comment or contact LilyToad at:
By Gret Boyd
Each day thousands of kids are picked on at school. From the smallest child in elementary school to high school, bullying has become a part of a child’s school experience. Probably around forever, we are only now realizing how deeply bullying affects our children. Especially the children who cope with bullying by becoming silent and disappearing into the crowd to escape. From random acts of bullying to relentless daily attacks, bullying needs to be understood from its root cause to how to guide a child to handle it and if need be, step in as a parent and demand that it stop. Read the rest of this entry »