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Everything You Need to Know to Understand Bullying in Schools

Everything You Need to Know to Understand Bullying in Schools

If you think bullying in schools isn't an issue, think again. Twenty percent of school children have “done some bullying.” One out of every four children is bullied in the United States. No matter where you live, every parent needs to know more about bullying. Keep reading to learn about this serious problem.

Key Points

  • If your child is being bullied, they may lose interest in school, shy away from interactions with their peers, and show signs of depression.
  • Talk to your child about their experiences, and take action quickly to ensure the bullying ends.
  • If your child is the bully, talk to them about the consequences their actions could have on another. If necessary, take away privileges as a punishment and consider whether their friends are a bad influence.
Bullying in Schools

Understanding Childhood Bullying

Bullying always includes the following three elements:

  • An imbalance of power
  • The intent to harm
  • Threat of further aggression

It is a deliberate act of aggression done to a person who is seen as weak. The older neighborhood kid who “owns” the block, the popular girl who spreads gossip about specific girls, and the smooth-talking boy who quietly taunts the new kid are all examples of bullies.

Bullies do what they do because they enjoy the power and the instant gratification. Most likely, they have been raised in an environment where competition is valued over cooperation. Also, communities contribute to the bullying problem when they downplay hazing incidents, perpetuate racial discrimination, and “look the other way” when popular kids get caught bullying.

The more bullies get away with their actions, the more they feel entitled to keep doing them.

Bullying happens at the end of the hall, in the shadows, and by the secluded corner of the playground. Bullies make it clear to the targeted child that tattling will mean more terror than ever. They use intimidation to keep targeted children under their thumb. Now and then, they remind the targeted child who’s really in charge. Usually, the targeted child accepts their fate, and the cycle continues.

Signs of Being Bullied

Be on the lookout for signs of bullying in your child and children you care about. Common red flags of a child being bullied include:

  • Not talking about peers anymore
  • Sudden disinterest in school
  • Desire to be left alone a lot
  • Grades drop dramatically
  • Takes an unusual route to and from school
  • Looks upset or seems moody much of the time

It may appear that most bullies act alone. However, their real power comes from the bystanders who watch, support, or join in with the bully. Many children don’t like watching bullies hurt other kids. However, they silently give support when they keep it a secret from adults. Other children may join in out of a fear of being bullied themselves.

What You Can Do If Your Child is Being Bullied

Here are a few things you can do about school bullying as a parent.

Teach your kids what bullying looks like, how to help the targeted child, and to always tell a trusted adult.
Encourage them to do the right thing, and assure them that you will help. Take note of any odd behavior that might indicate your child has been targeted by a school bully.

Curbing a bullying problem in schools is like getting rid of stubborn crabgrass. You have to dig out the entire root system or it will just come back. Be prepared to stand up for children who feel trapped and afraid. By understanding more about bullying, you can help break the cycle of fear in your community schools.

If you know who the child is or children are who are bullying your child, consider speaking to their parents. Their parents might be part of the problem, though, so be prepared for pushback or no resolution. Hopefully, their parents will take action when they find out their child is bullying another.

In extreme cases where bullying against your child is widespread, persistent over the long-term, or having a severe impact on their mental health, you should consider having them change schools. Bullying is present in every school, but some schools seem to have a worse problem with it than others. You can also consider homeschooling your child, or having them attend online classes for the rest of the year.

What You Can Do If Your Child is the Bully

If your child is the one doing the bullying, then you need to take action. The first step is to talk to your child. You want to make sure you learn whether they're the source of the bullying, or whether they're bullying someone because of pressure from others.

Once you identify the type of bully your child is, take action. Help them understand that their actions are damaging and inappropriate. Talk about the real consequences that can come from bullying, such as depression and suicide. Ask them if they'd want to be responsible for someone's sadness or even for their death. This might seem extreme, but it's important that your child understands the real consequences their actions could have.

If your child's bullying persists after this conversation, more strict discipline may be necessary. Start taking away privileges. Consider whether your child's friends are a good influence on them. In extreme cases, consider whether another school would be a better fit for them. Ultimately, it is your responsibility as a parent to do what you can to stop your child from bullying others.

You may also want to consider taking them to a therapist. At times, bullying can be indicative of a deeper problem. Certain mental illnesses can cause social issues and anger management problems. A child psychologist can help you determine if this is the issue.

Bullying in the News

Unfortunately, bullying is still a common problem in today's schools. As such, it frequently makes appearances in the news cycle. On July 20, 2023, NBC Bay Area reported that a family is suing their school district after their daughter was allegedly bullied and beat up by other students at her school. The family stated that their daughter suffered a concussion from the attack, as well as psychological damage. She had to be taken to the emergency room for treatment. The family stated that they attempted to talk to the school district about the bullying their daughter experienced, but that the school failed to act. They are suing for $25,000 in damages for battery and negligence. The alleged ringleader of the attack is also being sued.

On July 19, 2023, Patch reported that Bernards Township School District is prepared to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by the parents of a former student. The lawsuit alleges that the student faced “unending” bullying and racism while attending the school. The bullying began in seventh grade and continued through eighth grade; the former student's parents decided to pull him out of the school and send him to a private high school. The lawsuit claims that the former student, identified only as J.B. due to his status as a minor, suffered from numerous mental health complications as a result of his experiences, including PTSD and depression.

On July 18, 2023, Mamaroneck schools were found by an attorney general's office to be negligent in providing adequate protections from bullying for nonwhite students. The school district has agreed to a series of reforms in wake of the decision, including policy changes and punishments for those who retaliate against victims of bullying and abuse for reporting the problems. The attorney general's investigation looked at incidents as far back as the 2015-16 school year.

As you can see through these stories, bullying is a very real and persistent problem in American schools. It is important that you maintain open lines of communication with your child, and that you swiftly move to address any bullying that arises. If necessary, move your child to another school and consider legal action.

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