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Challenge: Bullying Hurts

Bullying at school: what is it and how to deal with it?

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Sometimes children are cruel, so even teachers don’t know what to do in such cases. However, nonsensical and ruthless school bullying has always been, and it will always exist in this or that form.

Please, keep in mind the difference between school bullying and a situation when a child doesn’t have friends at school. The child can be introvert, self-contained, prefer spending time alone or just be not very popular among the classmates, but the above mentioned doesn’t mean that such a kid is a victim of school bullying.

How often is school bullying encountered?

More often, than it seems. 30% of students at the age from 5 to 14 have experienced bullying attacks. This is 6,5 million (according to estimates made in 2011). Fifth part of these cases happen at school. The number isn’t just large, it is huge!

According to the American Psychological Association, "40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school careers."

Why bullying is dangerous?

Besides the fact that bullying may take the form of physical violence, it can also be both psychological and emotional. It’s harder to see the consequences in this case, but this doesn’t make psychological bullying less dangerous.

Bullying destroys a person’s self-esteem. Those exposed to bullying (victims) start to feel psychological or emotional insecurity. A child starts to believe that he’s somehow deserved such a bad attitude.

Who is in the risk group?

Actually, anyone may suffer from bullying. Abusers are looking for some reasons which make the kid different from others (both positive and negative differences will do).

These may be physical handicaps, some health issues, low academic progress, the fact of wearing glasses, different hear color or shape of one’s eyes, absence of fancy clothes or expensive gadgets or even divorced parents.

Self-contained children, who don’t have many friends as well as those, who are raised at home and have no experience of communication with other children outside the house and all children, whose behavior is the one peculiar to a victim are quite often subjected to bullying.

It’s useless to try to fix the aspects, which have become a reason for bullying. Abusers will use any, even the smallest reason to attack.

How can you see, that a kid is experiencing bullying?

Quite often children tend not to speak about their problems: they are afraid that adults’ interference will aggravate the conflict or that adults won’t understand them and won’t be supportive in such cases. Here are several signs, which will help you to see whether a child is exposed to bullying:

  • Bruises and scratches, which the child can’t explain.

  • The kid is depressed

  • The kid is telling lies when being asked about the injuries – saying he/she doesn’t remember where the bruises came from.

  • The kid’s personal belongings, gadgets, clothes or jewelry often get lost or broken for some reason.

  • Very often the child is looking for reasons to skip classes, pretends to be ill, he/she has some sudden headache or stomachache.

  • Eating behavior changes. You must pay special attention to cases, when the kid doesn’t eat at school.

  • Nightmares, insomnia.

  • Decreasing academic progress, loss of interest in school classes.

  • Quarrels with old friends and loneliness, low self-esteem, constant depression.

  • The kid runs away from home (or tires to); you notice signs of autolesion and other kinds of self-destructive behavior.

How to stop bullying?

To say the truth, none of the researches can give you 100% working piece of advice on how to stop bullying. You must keep in mind, if school bullying has started, you can’t fix the problem just between ‘the victim and the abuser’, since this is not an effective way. You should work with the whole group, since bullying always includes more than two participants.

The whole class and the teachers – they are witnesses, which are also affected by this drama. They also participate in the process, even if they are just observers.

Bullying is the problem of the whole group. If you just remove the victim from the system, transfer a child to another school, the system will select a new victim from the rest of the students and continue the same scenario. An abuser will always find his victim.

The only way to really stop bullying, is to create a psychologically healthy school group.

Tasks that require group interaction, various group project tasks, some out-of-school activities involving all students will be very helpful for this purpose.

How to support a child?

If the child lacks possibilities to raise his self-esteem at school, create or find them for him. Let the child demonstrate his skills by doing some hobby, sports or some additional out-of-school activities.

You should help the kid grow his self-esteem. This requires some real proofs of the kid’s feeling of self-importance, i.e. some real achievements. Some unusual hobbies will be definitely helpful. Firstly, the rivalry level is lower there and it’s easier to obtain some impressive results as well. Secondly, such hobbies are extraordinary, and they also may stir interest from other children to the kid who is doing such a hobby.

For example, you can get a bow for a kid and start to learn shooting together or go treasure hunting with a kid.

Do whatever you think will raise the kid’s self-esteem. Become ‘good parents’ for your kid!

My kid is doing well, so bullying is not about him?

Let’s hope, that it’s not and that your kid won’t become either a victim or an abuser.

But just in case, keep in mind that:

Bullying is a very spread phenomenon, which has always been present in life. Bullying grows where it can feed: for example, in a group of kids with rather different aims and interests. Anyone can become a victim of bullying, since we all differ from each other in this or that way.

Children don’t always tell their parents that they have become victims of bullying, but it is almost impossible to solve the problem without timely adults’ interference. To stop bullying you must work with the whole class simultaneously, together with teachers and psychologists.

The main thing is to save the child’s self-esteem to prevent serious psychological problems in his adult life.

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