Bullying Is a Big Problem
Every day thousands of children wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of kids, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on the receiving end. Parents, teachers, and other adults don’t always see it and they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.
Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing.
Some of the main reasons people are bullied are because of appearance and social status. Bullies pick on the people they think don’t fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act, their race or religion, or because the bullies think their target may be gay or lesbian.
Some bullies attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting. Others use psychological control or verbal insults to put themselves in charge. For example, people in popular groups or cliques often bully people they categorize as different by excluding them or gossiping about them. They may also taunt or tease their targets.
How Does Bullying Make People Feel?
Kids who are bullied may find their schoolwork and health suffering.
People who are abused by their peers are at risk for mental health problems, such as low self-esteem, stress, depression or anxiety.
Bullies like to dominate others and are generally focused on themselves. They often have poor social skills and poor social judgment. Sometimes they have no feelings of empathy or caring toward other people.
They put other people down to make themselves feel more powerful. Some bullies act the way they do because they’ve been hurt by bullies in the past, or even a bullying figure in their own family.
Some bullies actually have personality disorders that don’t allow them to understand normal social emotions like guilt, empathy, compassion, or remorse. These people need help from a counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
What Can You Do?
For younger kids, the best way to solve a bullying problem is to tell a trusted adult. For teens, though, the tell-an-adult approach depends on the bullying situation.
Adults in positions of authority, parents, teachers, or coaches, often can find ways to resolve dangerous bullying problems without the bully ever learning how they found out about it.
If you’re in a bullying situation that you think may escalate into physical violence, try to avoid being alone. Try to remain part of a group by walking home at the same time as other people or by sticking close to friends or classmates during the times that the bullying takes place.
Bullying Survival Tips
Ignore the bully and walk away.
Hold the anger.
Don’t get physical
Take charge of your life.
Talk about it.
Find your true friends.
Most people hesitate to speak out because it can be hard. It takes confidence to stand up to a bully, but when you keep quiet, the bully’s reach is extending beyond just one person. He or she is managing to intimidate lots of people. But when one person speaks out against a bully, the reverse happens. It gives others license to add their support and take a stand, too.
Another way to combat bullying is to join your school’s anti-violence program or, if your school doesn’t have one, to start one of your own.