Bullying is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. It has come a long way from calling a kid names or shoving in the hallway at school; bullying has become more aggressive, more violent, and more relentless than ever. Whether your child is being bullied, a bystander of a bully situation, or even the bully, you should have a serious talk with your child about the topic. Here are 4 types of bullying you shouldn’t forget to talk about.
This is probably the most obvious form of bullying, the physical overpowering of one person over another. It may be shoving, flicking, throwing things, tripping, knocking things out of another person’s hands, punching, kicking, etc. Regardless of what is actually happening, if the person on the receiving end of it isn’t amused, asks the other person to stop, is being physically or emotionally hurt by it, it is bullying and needs to stop.
Lately the news has had more and more stories of physical bullying being taken to the extremes with victims ending up in hospitals or even the morgue. Bottom line is that your child needs to know that it is completely unacceptable to physically bully or abuse another person in any way, shape or form.
Again, this form of bullying is fairly easy to spot, most of the time. However, it too has become a lot more aggressive and hurtful. Kids have come a long way from calling each other names like “four-eyes,” or “dork”. Today’s kids are using much more sinister vocabulary. Racial, ethnic, religious, homophobic, and sexual slurs are common staples of verbal bullying these days. And you would think that curse words would have lost some of their “punch” as often as they are used. No matter what the old adage says, words do hurt. And can they be very damaging to a young person’s self-esteem and self-worth.
When damaging words are thrown at you day in and day out, and people casually use your person, gender, religion or race in jokes that they laugh at all the time, you may begin to question who you are and if those words really define you. I mentioned that verbal bullying is fairly easy to spot most of the time, however sometimes it’s not.
Some people are so passive in their verbal bullying that it is hard to even know that it is happening unless you are the one who is left feeling bad after it has been said. Girls are the worst at this form, and there is even a term for it, “Frienamies,” friends who are really your enemies. Frienamies will make you feel comfortable so you open up to them, and then immediately betray you and spread your secrets around. Frienamies are experts at the backhanded compliments such as, “Oh! The pattern on your shirt is really cute! It totally draws attention away from your double chin.” Sneaky, yet still hurtful.
This is one of the hardest forms of bullying for many kids. Bullying used to happen at school, or to and from school, and once the kid reached home, they were safe. Not anymore. With everyone connected 24/7 with various social media outlets, kids can torture one another from anywhere, at any time, with an instant audience of however many 100’s of followers they have.
Digital photos can be altered into cruel memes and shared with 1,000’s instantly. And with the anonymity of an online profile a bully can easily hide from the consequences of his or her actions. Fake profiles can be made to trick and toy with people’s emotions. This is called “Catfishing”. Some victims of cyber bullying have actually killed themselves because they feel that there is no other way to escape the emotional terrors and cruel comments from their peers.
One way to monitor your children is to be aware of the aps they have on their phones. Know all of their passwords to social media accounts so you can check in on them. Be friends or followers of their social media accounts so they know that you will see what they are posting. Also, it is a good idea to have a rule about using the internet behind closed doors. Make sure that all computers, phones, and tablets that have access to the internet are always kept in very social areas of the house.
This form of bullying may be the hardest to identify or label. Sometimes kids think that just because they are not actively being mean that they are not being a bully. However, ignoring someone’s existence just because they are different is just as bad.
Let’s say a new kids joins the class. At lunch she walks up to a table of girls, they see her, but no one acknowledges her, no one moves over to make room for her. How does she feel? What message does that send?
Ignoring is bullying. In the same sense, being a bystander to bullying and doing nothing is also a form of bullying. By allowing it to happen, you are just as much to blame as the person doing the actual bully. Talk to your child about compassion, respect and empathy. Teach them that every single person deserves to be seen, to be heard, and to have a happy existence. Teach them that not everyone is strong enough or confident enough to stand up for themselves. If they see something wrong to step in and help that person.
How to Help
What help looks like may vary in different situations. In a verbal altercation, helping might be speaking up and telling the bully to stop. During a physical altercation, it may be pulling the bully off, or getting a person of authority to intervene. Online in a cyber situation help might look like a positive post of support, or a formal report to the website officials. And in an ignoring type of situation, it can be as simple as scooting over to make room at the lunch table.