Bullying: It may not be what you think.
Let’s start by discussing what bullying is. “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems”.
As a parent, guardian or even a friend, you may wonder if the child(ren) in your life have faced bullying. If so, how would you know? Many may think of the obvious signs of being told by the authorities in the schools or from the child directly. However, with so many new ways of communication and interaction bullying isn’t always easily noticed. This can leave many school aged children open to facing hard topics and harsh realities alone.
What can you do? You can be aware of the many ways bullying takes place and the affects it may have on the child(ren) in your life. In this month’s blog we will go over the types of bullying and what warning signs you can look for. Finally and most importantly the actions you can take to be an “Upstander” to bullying instead of a bystander. “Upstander” is a term coined by StopBullying.gov which holds many other great resources.
Types of Bullying:
1. Verbally: An individual is being abused with negative language and attacked verbally by others. This can also be written language passed in the form of notes, etc.
2. Social: An individual is being left out of the group or made fun of for their social differences. This can include slander of an individual’s reputation.
3. Physical: An individual is being hurt physically whether through, spitting, hitting, or kicking etc. This is a type of bullying that may have more physical evidence but sometimes will not.
No matter the type of bullying the child(ren) in your life may be experiencing none of it should be ignored. There are signs that you can look for in behavior of the child that may lead you to getting help for the child sooner rather than later.
The behavioral signs to look for are mostly changes in the child’s regular behavior or tendencies. Do they complain of regular stomachaches or headaches? They could be faking an illness to avoid school if that is where the problem is occurring. Do they all of a sudden have more behaviors that are destructive to their environment, friendships, and toys? Young children do not have as much capacity as adults to express their frustration or hurt in a proper way, this may result in destructive behaviors. Do they frequently lose items or money when before they were very responsible? In this case this may be caused by another individual taking the items the child holds dear to them. Do they have evidence of physical harm or more bruises then from just playing at recess? This is a very serious sign that the child may be under physical harm caused by physical bullying. In this case immediate attention is needed by a family doctor for further evaluation.
There are many more behavioral signs a child can display, for more information visit StopBullying.gov. Once you have talked with your child and discovered one of these many behavioral signs is the cause of bullying you may be beside yourself in thinking, what do I do? The good news is you are already steps ahead with taking the time to identify the signs of bullying and acknowledging bullying is a problem. While we wish we had all of the answers to the world of parenting, guardianship and friendship, we are here to help make this hard topic easier. The steps below are provided by Stomp Out Bullying, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture for all students.
Steps You Can Take: 
1. Find out pertinent and detailed information about what the bullies are doing, dates, times, places, actions, etc. Document everything.
2. Find out any threats that have been made toward your child, and if it pertains to outside of school; contact the police.
3. Contact the school during hours of operation and make an appointment with the principal for a face to face meeting.
4. Outline the details, not in an angry rant, but as if you were telling a friend what occurred.
5. Obtain a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy to determine if the bully violated a school policy.
6. When you meet with the school principal, tell your child’s story and ask for help.
7. Relate the facts and leave your emotions out of it. If you feel the bully has violated the school’s anti-bullying policy, bring this up calmly into the conversation.
8. Ask what you can do together to stop the bullying. Write down everything the principal said and agreed to do, because you are going to hold them accountable for it.
9. Send a thank-you letter to the principal, recapping what he or she said and agreed to do. This will put the principal on notice and on the alert that you are watching for a resolution to the problem.
10. Follow up with your child to see if the bullying stops, and follow up with the principal.
11. If the harassment continues, document it and file a Notice of Harassment. You may need to move up the chain of command, contacting the superintendent of schools, board of education, or possibly even state and federal authorities.
12. If your child has been threatened contact law enforcement immediately.
By taking these steps you can be the “Upstander” and put a halt to bullying, help the child involved and prevent others from enduring the same treatment. Bullying is a problem many school aged children face, however, when adults face it head on it can send the message that it is not appropriate behavior and will not be tolerated.
As StopBullying.gov states: “Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.”
“What Is Bullying.” StopBullying.gov, 2019, www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html.
 “What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied And Resources.” STOMP Out Bullying, 2019, www.stompoutbullying.org/get-help/parents-page/what-do-if-your-child-being-bullied-and-resources.
 “StopBullying.gov” StopBullying.gov, 2019, www.stopbullying.gov