Itâ€™s an all too familiar story to many people. A kid who likes to laugh and play just like the others but maybe they look a little bit different. Maybe theyâ€™re shy, or just a bit quirky. Or perhaps theyâ€™re just an unlucky target of anotherâ€™s misplaced anger. Whatever the reason, kidsÂ get bullied by other kids, and it happens far too often.
That is the story of Jenny, a little girl with bright white blonde hair who liked to walk around in boots and a bathing suit.
â€œI was quiet but loved to laugh and be silly,â€ Jenny recalls in a post at BlogHer. â€œI enjoyed my swing set, going to the boardwalk, and being with my family. I have wonderful memories of my childhood.â€
For Jenny, the bullying began in fifth grade and continued through high school. â€œIt started with names, and then sounds that went with those names. I do not want to even tell you what these kids called me…because it still gives me chills down my back.â€
Cases like Jennyâ€™s are far from unusual. About 28 percent of students ages 12 through 18 report being bullied. And with more kids going online to interact socially, cyberbullying is becoming a greater problem.
One million childrenÂ were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook alone in the past year.
- Help your child understand bullying. Â Explain what bullying is.It is more than
physical; it can be done in person or over the phone or computer.
- Keep open lines of communication with your child. Â Check in with your child and listen to any concerns about friends and other students.
- Encourage your child to pursue their interests. Doing what they love may help your child be more confident among their peers and make friends with other kids with similar interests.
- Teach your child to take a stand against bullying. Â Give guidance about how to stand up to those who bully if it is safe to do so.
- Talk to your child about seeking help from a trusted adult when feeling threatened by a bully. Talk about whom they should go to for help and role-play what they should say. Assure your child that they should not be afraid to tell an adult when someone they know is being bullied.
- Know what is going on in your child’s school. Visit the school website, subscribe to the student paperâ€”if there is oneâ€”and join the PTA listserv or mailing list.
- Get to know other parents, school counselors, and staff. Contact the school by phone or e-mail if you have suggestions to make the school a safer and better learning place.
Jenny, now in her thirties with an MBA and two children, credits her family for helping her through the difficult times. â€œThey gave me the confidence to get up in the morning and face my bullies head on. They let me cry when I needed to, and they did everything in their power to help me.â€œ
Were you ever bullied as a kid? Did you ever bully a classmate? How do you teach your children to deal with bullies?
See the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s page on bullying here.