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The Facts About Bullying

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles embellished by Photoshop and other graphic programs to cause maximum hurt. With social media, a hurtful post could go national, causing untold grief and shame to the victim.

Just as some children are acutely sensitive to shrimp or peanut butter, some children are crushed by abusive actions of children, their parents or their teachers. The wounds inflicted for sport could last a lifetime if a child becomes an alcoholic or emotionally frightened of social interactions.

How bullying starts

Nearly everyone is at risk of either being bullied or being the bully. Bullying can begin as early as preschool and last through higher education, in the form of fraternity hazing and other malicious behaviors.

Targets of bullying often are fearful of standing up for themselves and are extremely sensitive about their physical appearance, special challenges or social skills.

When parents engage their child(ren) in activities to build their self esteem and confidence, they help their kids develop coping skills that can help them deflect bullying behaviors.

Retaliation is not recommended. If bullying persists, professional help may be needed.

How to Help

It's extremely difficult for a bullied child to ask for help.Recognize that by letting your child share his experiences without interruption.

Some children will talk with encouragement. Take them somewhere comfortable, for pizza or coffee and ask open ended questions. Not "what happened, you are acting funny," but "did someone at school say something hurtful?"

Be as empathetic as possible and try to help your child problem-solve. Ask them questions about what they might do differently if the same situation presented itself again. Role play the bully and let them act out their response to better prepare them for potential incidents in the future.

Friends can really help. Help your child enlist the support of friends and teachers and make sure they understand how to assess and respond to bullying.

If the bullying persists, seek professional support.

Cyberbullying

According to StopBullying.gov, The 2010-2011 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 9% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying.

The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year. Parents may need to take away a child's cell phone or other electronic devices and/or monitor correspondence.

Parents may need to take away a child's cell phone or other electronic devices and/or monitor correspondence.

Help is Available

Swept under the rug or further diminished, unrecognized acts of bullying can push a child toward unhealthy coping mechanisms like drug or alcohol use, eating disorders and even suicide.

Most schools and even some communities have anti-bullying policies and support available. If yours does not, seek support from accredited national agencies listed on this page.

Editor's Note: This copy was reviewed by PsychSystems, a behavioral health group practice.

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