More than one of every five students (20.8%) reported being bullied in 2016. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016). While studies by the federal government show the prevalence of bullying has decreased since 2005, when it was around 28 percent (U.S. Department of Education, 2015), bullying still occurs in most schools.
No parents want to be the ones to get the call that their child is bullying others. If this happens, keeping an open mind and practicing acceptance is the first step to teaching your child not to bully. Being aware of the signs that your child might be the bully and taking steps to understand the root cause of the bullying behavior are key to preventing future issues.
“Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, if it’s not stopped, it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior and interfere with your child’s success in school and ability to form and sustain friendships,” according to Kidshealth.org.
Signs your child is bullying
According to StopBullying.gov, there are many signs of bullying behavior. Children might be bullying if:
- They get into physical or verbal fights
- They have friends who bully others
- They are increasingly aggressive
- They get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- They have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- They blame others for their problems
- They don’t accept responsibility for their actions
- They are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
Understanding why kids bully
Kidshealth.org says kids bully for a variety of reasons, including:
Insecurity. Picking on someone who is weaker emotionally or physically sometimes provides insecure children with feelings of being more important, popular, or in control.
Ignorance. In some cases, children bully because they simply don’t know that it is unacceptable to pick on others who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion.
Pattern of deviant behavior. Bullying sometimes is part of an ongoing pattern of defiant or aggressive behavior. These kids are likely to need help learning to manage anger and hurt, frustration, or other strong emotions, and they might not have the skills to cooperate with others. Professional counseling often can help them learn to deal with their feelings, curb their bullying, and improve their social skills.
Copycatting. Some kids who bully are copying behavior they see at home. Kids who are exposed to aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way.
Helping your child stop bullying
“Let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.”
Kidshealth.org suggests you try these tactics as you help your child stop bullying:
- Take bullying seriously
- Teach kids to treat others with respect and kindness
- Learn about your child’s social life
- Encourage good behavior
- Set a good example
Sometimes, taking a look at what is going on in your home can help you understand your child’s bullying behavior. The example you set for your children at home is important too. If your family is going through a stressful time that you think might have contributed to your child’s behavior, you should reach out for help from the resources at school and in your community.
Sometimes, by talking to teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials who can help you identify situations that lead to bullying and offer advice, you will learn you have a team of people to help you as you help your child stop bullying.
Although getting a call from the school indicating your child is partaking in bullying behavior is not easy, it is an opportunity to better communicate with your child, help him or her learn how to treat others, and get an understanding of the root causes behind these actions.