Tonight I am speaking in the community about an important topic: BULLYING.
Bullying takes many forms, including physical bullying; teasing or name-calling; social exclusion; peer sexual harassment; bullying about race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity; and cyber bullying.
It is abusive behavior by one or more person(s) against a victim or victims. While bullying can be a direct attack such as teasing, taunting, threatening, stalking, name-calling, hitting, making threats, coercion and stealing, it can also be subtler through malicious gossiping, spreading rumors and intentional exclusion. All forms of bullying result in victims becoming socially rejected and isolated because of physical or psychological intimidation that occurs repeatedly over time to create an ongoing pattern of harassment and abuse. Bullying also occurs through cyberspace including through e-mail, cell phone texting, instant messaging, blogging and social networking sites.
There are 6 factors that further identify bullying:
1. Intent to harm – The perpetrator finds pleasure in the taunting and continues even when the victim’s distress is obvious.
2. Intensity and duration – The teasing continues over a long period and the degree of taunting is damaging to the self-esteem of the victim.
3. Power of the abuser – The abuser maintains power because of age, strength, size or gender.
4. Vulnerability of the victim – The victim is more sensitive to teasing, cannot adequately defend him- or herself and has physical or psychological qualities that make him or her more prone to vulnerability.
5. Lack of support – The victim feels isolated and exposed. Often, the victim is afraid to report the abuse for fear of retaliation.
6. Consequences – The damage to self- concept is long lasting and the impact on the victim leads to behavior marked by either
withdrawal or aggression.
What can we do?
It doesn't matter if we are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, neighbor, or just a concerned citizen. We have ALL been a child, and most of us KNOW children. If you hear of or witness bullying, Intervene, report it and help that child! Here are some things we can do:
Encourage family caregivers to convey these basic messages:
I believe in you
I love you
I will create a safe place for you to live
I will role-model respect, resiliency and optimism
I will set reasonable and developmentally appropriate limits and guidelines
I will help you learn to deal with life situations
I will listen to you
I will care for you
You are important to me
I will not allow you to bully others
I will help you if you are bullied
Know your child’s school’s policy on bullying. Work with the school.
Teach (and demonstrate) children how to show empathy to others.
Teach (and demonstrate) healthy coping skills.
Teach and use feelings words to express ALL of the emotions.
Refer children who are victims, children who are bullies, and their parents to counseling services.