U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional)
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland — Have you ever teased someone or been teased?
Teasing can become a hurtful event for a child, especially if the teaser persistently taunts the child.
Children will learn to handle most teasing situations, but they may need assistance or intervention from adults when they are subjected to repeated hostile and aggressive behavior.
When this occurs, it is likely that the child is being bullied by the individual.
The difference between teasing and bullying is only a matter of the degree of time and intent — teasing is generally seen as ribbing someone playfully for a very short period of time, whereas bullying is characterized by repeated, hurtful attacks over a long period of time.
The “Stop Bullying Now” Web site describes bullying as an “aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength; typically, repeated over time; and a child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself.”
Bullying has many forms, such as verbal taunting, name calling, threats, hitting and punching, intimidation using gestures or social exclusion, or sending insulting e-mails.
The bully is usually bigger, older, stronger or smarter.
The bully’s intent is often to exert power over the victim.
The bully is often one individual; however, school gangs will often taunt and harass vulnerable targets.
Cruel teasing and taunting done with the intent to hurt can have a negative impact on a child’s self esteem.
Thus, bullying has been identified as a major concern by schools across the United States by the National Education Association.
Verbal bullying is the most frequent form of bullying reported by both boys and girls.
Boys are more likely to be physically bullied while the NEA states that girls are more likely to be targets of rumor spreading and sexual harassment. Social exclusion is also often reported by girls.
Experts report that youth who are bullied are more likely than other youth to be depressed, lonely, anxious, feel physically sick and think about suicide.
Furthermore, the child who is bullied may fear and avoid going to school.
Some schools are not apt to consistently or effectively deal with bullies since most school employees are generally unsure about what to do when a child is being bullied.
So, parents need to take action when they realize their child may be victimized by a bully.
An effective preventive measure is to form a partnership with the school.
Parents can do this by attending PTA meetings and school conferences, and by knowing their child’s teachers.
By developing a partnership with their child’s teachers, it is more likely that teachers will respond when a parent presents a concern.
A partnership can be extremely useful in taking necessary steps to eliminate bullying in the school.
Here are some additional steps a parent can take to stop bullying:
•Talk with and listen to kids — every day.
•Spend time at school and recess.
•Be a good example of kindness and leadership.
•Learn the signs of bullying.
•Create healthy anti-bullying habits early.
•Help the child’s school address bullying effectively.
•Establish household rules about bullying.
•Teach children how to be a good witness.
•Teach children about cyber-bullying.
•Spread the word that bullying should not be a normal part of childhood.
A child has the right to feel physically and emotionally safe.
The vigilant parent can ensure that this happens.
If a child is being victimized, consult with the child’s teachers and school administrator, a behavioral health professional or law enforcement to help develop an appropriate course of action to eliminate the bullying or harassment.
Visit Education.com, www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/ or www.education.com/reference/article/ten-actions-to-eliminate-bullying/.