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Bullying: What You Can Do to Stop or Prevent It

A story about how to deal with bullying and helpful tips to prevent it.

The month of October is National Bully Prevention Month. Throughout Niles, in cooperation with the Niles Police Department, schools will be working to address bullying and cyber bullying. The reality is that the problem continues even with all the attention that has been placed upon it.  There are several different types of bullying including cyber bullying, bullying in schools as well as other forms of harassing.

Bullying can happen anywhere. Many children and teens are regular victims of bullying, which can lead to serious emotional scarring and problems with the victim's self-esteem and self-image. Correcting these behaviors before they start or get out of hand are of great importance for parents. Through this article we will talk about facts and warning signs in victims (targets) of bullying as well as in children who might be bullies themselves. To truly understand bullying we have to understand what it is.

Bullying is a deliberate act in which one person attempts to control another person through verbal abuse - which can be in tone of voice or in content such as teasing or threats - exclusion, or physical bullying or violence, which the victim does not want. While some tie the feature of "peer abuse" and "repeated activity" into the definition of bullying, others acknowledge single instances and age difference in their definitions of bullying. Bullying occurs in schools, workplaces, in homes, on playgrounds, in the military, and in nursing homes, for example. Although a form of harassment, bullying is considered to be a separate category from sexual harassment.

Types of bullying:

  • Verbal. This type of bullying usually involves name calling and or teasing
  • Social. Spreading rumors, intentionally leaving others out of activities on purpose, breaking up friendships are all examples of social bullying.
  • Physical. This traditional form of bullying involves hitting, punching, shoving and other acts of intentional physical harm.
  • Cyberbullying. This method of bullying involves using the Internet, texting, email and other digital technologies to harm others. 

Facts on bullying:

  • Imbalance of power. Typically those who engage in bully-like behaviors use their strength, popularity or power to harm, control or manipulate others. They will usually target those who are weaker in size or may have a difficult time defending themselves.
  • Intent to cause harm. A bully is a person who does not do things by accident. The bully intends to physically or emotionally injure a person or group of persons. 
  • Repetition. Typically incidents of bullying are not a one-time thing. Bullies target the same person or group over and over again. 

It is important for parents to discuss the facts on bullying with their children to help teach them how to watch out for bullying and to avoid being bullied. There are several signs parents can look for when evaluating if your child is a victim of bullying.

  • Comes home with unexplained injuries or with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
  • Has change in eating habits
  • Makes excuses not to go to school
  • Has fewer friends
  • Feels helpless
  • Talks about suicide
  • Acts out of character
  • Avoids certain places or playing outside alone
  • Feels like they are not good enough
  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Blames themselves for their problems 

The facts on bullying also provide information on what types of signs to look for in children who might be bullying others.

  • Becomes frequently violent
  • Has trouble controlling anger
  • Is manipulative and controlling of others and situations
  • Is quick to blame others
  • Does not accept responsibility for their actions
  • Needs to win or be the best at everything

Understanding these warning signs can help parents prevent their children from becoming bullies or help them not become a victim of a bully. Counseling or therapy are excellent methods in helping to treat a children who exhibit symptoms of bullying. Children who are victims may also need some kind of support or counseling to help resolve underlying issues of emotional feelings of inadequacy. Children who are confident and have higher self-esteem are less likely to fall prey to the attacks of bullying. 

Take the time to talk to your children about dealing with bullying; those few minutes for meaningful conversation on an issue that is rarely discussed with children can go a long way. Use dinner time to have the conversation with the entire family so that everyone is on the same page. Be safe and have a wonderful fall. Chief of Police Dean Strzelecki advises young people “Be a buddy, not a bully!”

The Niles Police Department has a new Bully Prevention Page loaded with tips and information on how to deal with bullying.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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