From physical and verbal attacks to harassment via messaging and social media, bullies of all ages can cause pain and humiliation both in person and through electronic technology. Some may not even realize their behavior constitutes bullying. Educate yourself and your loved ones to help identify and stop bullying of all kinds.
Bullying Among Youth
Victims can exhibit a variety of warning signs, including unexplainable injuries, lost or destroyed belongings and decreased self-esteem. Eating and sleeping habits, interest in social activities and academic grades often decline as well, and bullied students may feign illness to avoid school.
Does your child have extra money or new belongings they can’t explain? Are they often being called into the principal’s office or receiving detention? These can be signals of someone with bullying behavior. If you notice something, address it right away.
How Is Cyberbullying Different?
Trolling, name-calling, impersonation, account hacks, leaks and threats: All of these constitute online bullying, and they’re difficult to guard against since they can take place anywhere and at any time. Cyberbullies are also able to remain anonymous, and there’s the added concern that the harassment can go viral.
What You Can Do
All 50 states have anti-bullying laws, and all but two (Alaska and Wisconsin) include electronic harassment. If your child is being bullied, contact the teacher, school counselor, principal and any other education professionals who can help, and tell them what’s happening.
If you suspect your child is bullying another, step in. Start by discussing what bullying behavior is with your kids, then model compassion and empathy for the victim. Help them see it through different eyes. And don’t forget to enforce adequate consequences.
When it comes to cyberbullying, don’t respond or retaliate. Instead, save all related photos and emails, and take screenshots of status updates, tweets and comments that could serve as evidence. When the bullying turns into threats of physical harm, contact local law enforcement.