Bullying Awareness and Prevention Guide

Bullying has always been a serious problem due to the negative impact on both a victim and a bully. Children and teenagers are especially prone to this harmful experience because they are still developing their understanding and attitude towards the world and cases of constant humiliating, isolation, or physical aggression can lead to severe psychological problems in the future. The power over other people that bullies feel may also inevitably change their personalities and prevent them from developing adequate relationships with other people in general. That is why this issue needs to be addressed as soon as it emerges.

What is Bullying?

Basically, this is the term that includes various behaviors of a person intended to frighten or even hurt another person who usually could not resist the pressure and might be forced to do things he or she did not want.

Bullying may take various forms so that children, parents, and educators must be aware of the possible embodiments of this phenomenon:

  • Physical bullying. As its name suggests, it involves physical aggression of a bully over the victim, such as hitting, kicking, or destruction of one’s belongings. Usually, this form is chosen by male bullies who pick a weaker or younger target and demonstrate their power in this way.
  • Sexual Bullying. While being a form of physical bullying it is much more harmful as intimidation and offenses of sexual nature may irreversibly affect a person’s ability to develop positive relationships. What is more, there were multiple suicide cases as teenagers, while already possessing the developed sexuality, are still emotionally unstable at times.
  • Verbal Bullying. Insulting the victim or making hurtful comments related to his or her appearance, racial, religious or sexual belonging may be as harmful as physical aggression. The only difference that the bully uses only words to gain power over the victim.
  • Relational/Social Bullying. The victim’s social life, which is a very meaningful part of children’s and teenagers’ lives, is being the target when this form of bullying is used. Neglect, exclusion, spreading gossips and other unpleasant activities are used to isolate the victim from friends and, as a result, the society in general.
  • Cyberbullying. The modern world with its abundance of electronic means of communication provides more opportunities for bullies to hurt their victims. Sending personal hurtful messages appears to be the least harmful variant as the victim’s personal information can be spread online for a myriad of people to see. What is more, cyberbullying may occur at any time as it is not linked to a certain location, such as school.

The main danger of this issue is that there are no definite locations and places where bullying occurs, it is no longer limited by a schoolyard only. Bullies need to feel their power and this desire is, unfortunately, in human nature. The bully’s desire to feel better about himself or herself might be among other reasons. The bullies may also just don’t want to be victims themselves and threatening others is rather precaution measures.

StopBullying governmental resources provide shocking facts about the bullying issue in the modern world. Almost every third student in the U.S. has been bullied at school, 19% of the 2017 survey participants mentioned that they were bullied during the last 12 months, and more than 70% of respondents reported seeing bullying in their schools. 15% of those who stated that they were bullied at school mentioned that this unpleasant experience involved online and electronic means of communication.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict who will be more prone to bullying. Any young person may become the victim for the older or stronger student. At the same time, certain groups such as LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of being bullied because of the prevalence of differences and non-conformity to traditional norms. Other factors, such as physical weakness, over-protectiveness from the parents’ side, and low social competence may contribute to the risk of victimization.

How to Spot Bullying?

Both child’s and parents’ points of view need to be taken into consideration as different strategies need to be adopted.

Obviously, it is hard for a child not to notice that he or she is being bullied. However, the presence of the following effects and symptoms must serve as the call for immediate action to prevent the negative impact of bullying on one’s further life:

  • Desire to try drugs and alcohol – many adult substance abusers were bullied in childhood and used alcohol and tobacco for relaxation and self-medication, which is not a sensible way of addressing the issue.
  • Developing depression and suicidal thoughts as an especially important call for prevention measures.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Feelings of anger and desire for revenge.
  • Refusal to develop close relationships with other people.
  • Lowered academic performance and absence of motivation to learn.
  • Insomnia, headache, and other health issues related to stress.

Parents may easily detect all those signs themselves as children’s behavior becomes significantly different. The only requirement for parents is to avoid being preoccupied with their own problems. Talk to the child. Be involved in his or her life. Pay attention to what he or she does and all warning signs will reveal themselves. The matter is that less than 30% of children who became the victims of bullying inform their parents about the issue. The rest keep silent due to various reasons, but it will be safe to assume that lack of parents’ care, involvement, and understanding of the child’s or teenager’s needs is the primary reason.

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How to Deal with Bullying?

The primary requirement for all involved parties if they want to deal with bullying issues is to be honest with themselves and each other. The open and respectful conversation may change a lot in the situation and find the most effective ways to avoid negative consequences. However, the actions to be taken depend on the point of view and who is the victim.

Helpful Resources

Legal help

National Crime Prevention Council

Apart from information and resources on bullying and ways to address the problem, this organization also provides programs and training for those who work on the issue.

StopBullying.gov

Specific problems require separate solutions, that is why the checklist with possible first steps to solve the problem with sources needed for that should be one of the first places to check.

The Bullying Project

This is the social action campaign that sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.

Illinois Legal Aid

This website provides a collection of resources that will be helpful for dealing with bullying and information and resources including articles, videos, and forms in other areas.

Psychological help

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

When a teenager is experiencing bullying for a long time, he or she may become extremely prone to depression and suicidal mood. Qualified and confidential emotional support is available nationwide in just one phone call away. It is always a good idea to give it a try in case of need. However, in other cases, it is better to contact a counselor first or even just talk to a teacher you trust.

Teens Against Bullying

This center was created by and for teens, this website is a place for middle and high school students to find ways to address bullying, to take action, to be heard, and to own an important social cause.

Better Help

This website offers access to licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (Ph.D. / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC) who are ready to help with any bullying issue.

American Psychological Association

It is is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the US, with more than 120 thousands researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members.

Prevention

The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

This long-term program presupposes changes on four levels – from individual to community one. The effectiveness of this complex approach was proven, that is why authorities must consider the wider implementation of this program.

University of Colorado Boulder

This is a center for the Study and Prevention of Violence gives tips on how schools, teachers, and students can prevent bullying. It also includes publications on different bullying topics.

Kids Against Bullying

Includes information about bullying targeted toward elementary school children.

National Education Association

Getting acquainted with as many anti-bullying resources as possible might save someone from harm or even suicide. Noticing warning signs and demonstrating of care and support is often a sufficient remedy even though it does not look much.

Conclusion

While being the victim of bullying may be treated by some people like the tough lesson of life, this is the experience that must be eliminated as early as possible because it will only result in harm to one’s personality. All the future consequences could not be foreseen, that is why both children and adults must be aware of the issue and possible ways of dealing with it.

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