In recent years, bullying has become a national concern. It appears that bullying has increased in settings such as school and in our local communities. Bullying can include behaviors such as verbal and cyber threats, physical aggression and excessive teasing.
What we know about bullying is that boys and girls tend to engage in bullying, but each tend to use different forms. For example, boys are more likely to engage physical bullying, while girls are more likely to engage in verbal and cyber threats. Research indicates that there is no one cause for bullying. Some contributing factors can be negative family, school and peer environments. Both bullies and victims can be at greater risk for future emotional difficulties. An additional challenge in combating bullying is that many adults do not recognize or consider bullying to be a serious issue. Additionally, many schools still do not have programs that address bullying.
The US Department of Justice reported that younger students are more likely to be bullied than older students. Bullying appears to be more prevalent between the 5th and 8th grade. Other reports indicate that students with special needs, such as Autism, are especially vulnerable to bullying.
What Can Parents Do?
- Parents can investigate whether their school has a preventive bullying program that goes beyond a “zero tolerance approach”. Effective school prevention programs emphasize a positive school climate with involvement and training on bullying for students, parents and faculty. This approach has proven especially effective at the elementary and middle school levels.
- Parents can check their child’s social media activity on a regular basis.
- Parents can keep the lines of communication open with their child with regular talks about their social and school experiences.
- Parents can try to be aware of changes in their child’s behavior such as a child who becomes withdrawn, unhappy, has experienced a recent drop in grades, or demonstrates an unwillingness to attend school or go outside.
Jean Ruttenberg, MA
Jean is a well-known and respected specialist in the area of autism, ADHD and emotional disorders. She assists all age groups and is skilled at solving difficult behavior problems.