Bullying: Helping Your Victimized Child - Monday, January 12 2015

Bullying is serious stuff.  It can include teasing, spreading rumours, sexual comments, exclusion, stealing, damaging property and physical violence.  Some parents and teachers do not see verbal bullying as a serious problem.  Instead they believe that it's part of the growing pains associated with school and that children need to just 'live with it.'  However, research has shown that if teasing or name calling (verbal bullying) is not discouraged in the school system it can lead to more excessive bullyi8ng and even physical violence.

Bullies are often kids who feel powerless and only feel good about themselved when they have power and control over others.  They use bullying to overcome their feelings of powerlessness.  Even sadder, children who suffered as victims of bullies can become bullies later on.

The victims are often kids who are cautious, anxious or may lack social skills and friends.  They are often from families where parents are very close and/or somewhat overprotective.  They may cry easily, and tend to be weaker than their peers.

Here are some tips for helping a child:

1. Stay calm and teach your child how to protect himself with confidence.

2. Teach your child to ignore teasing because bullies like confrontation.  He can do that either by walking away, or by using humour.  ("If you think I'm weird (ugly, and so on) you should see my cousin") or agreeing with the bully ("You're right. I'm weird.") in a matter of fact way.  Tone is important for it sends a message that you don't care what is being said.  This can defuse the bully if there is little to no reaction or audience to talk to.

3. Fighting back can be dangerous as victims are often smaller and could get hurt.  Besides, it teaches a child that he can solve problems with violence.

4.  Look for characteristics in your chil that may invite bullying.  Does he appear weak, does he slouch, or does he look afraid? Help your child to feel confident by showing him how to walk tall.  Role-play with him so he can practice this.  If he looks confident, he'll begin to feel more confident.

5.  Encourage him to stay in a group.  It's safer and his friends can protect him more easily that he could if he was alone.

6.  And last, but not least, speak to the school with your concerns and ask what policies they have in place to deal with bullying.  These could include discussions and role-playing about teasing and harassment, encouraging others to speak up about it, discipline in place such as assigning a monitor to the bully, and giving the bully some responsible and useful power.

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