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Parenting

‘My Child is a Bully’ 

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ullying is an issue that affects millions of people – both students and adults. The problem is, bullies are wily creatures who know exactly how to hide what they are doing, to feign innocence when an adult is near. They are manipulative, insecure and often have personality issues.

Two of the main reasons identified through studies suggest that bullying happens because of appearance and social status. Bullies will often victimise people who they do not believe fit in or because of how they look. They also like to target people who are battling with sexual orientation, who have different religious practices, or who are different from the.

Types of bullying include physical violence, emotional vicitmisation, cyber bullying, and even in some cases sexual assault. Psychological and verbal bullying are also common forms.

The bully vs. the bullied:

There are usually three parties during a difficult situation like bullying: the bully, the bullied and the bystander.

One of the biggest problems with bullying is that it is unyielding. People who are bullied are subject to humiliation and as a result, self-esteem is badly affected, sometimes to the point where they are no longer confident even going to school. School work begins to suffer, phantom illnesses become common, and actual illness can result. Studies show that people who are abused by the peer group, or even teachers, can suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

And, of course, the bullies are at risk too. Violence is a vicious cycle that sometimes has no end. It is estimated that a ¼ of bullies will later have a criminal record. Bullying knows no gender and does not discriminate against age. Anyone can be a bully. Common characteristics that these people share include a desire to dominate others, a grandiose sense of self (even if it is put on), have poor social skills and often have no concept of compassion or empathy (the ability to understand another’s plight).  Bullies may believe they are untouchable, but a deep-seated insecurity is often observed in their personalities. Some even come from violent or neglectful families. Then there are the types of bullies who have personality disorders and battle with normal social emotions. In this case, psychological help is necessary.

“You can’t be against bullying without actually doing something about it”
–Randi Weingarten

The third part is the bystander, which is one who watches but does not take part. There is NO such thing as an innocent bystander. These are the people who have the power to stop the bullying by recognising and reporting it. Teach your child to never become a bystander, always take action if you witness and injustice in the playground.

Tips are recommended by bullying.org as advice for those who are bullied:

  • Ignore the bully and walk away. As difficult as this sounds, especially when adrenaline is flowing, it is the best thing you can do. I assure you, there is nothing more humiliating for the bully then his victim standing up confidently and turning their back.
  • Do not lose your temper. That is what the bully wants, to know they have power over your emotional stability. Why give them that? You are only as strong as you feel, make sure they know that.
  • Be brave. Don’t give in to the humiliating demands bullies have. Say no, and say it proudly. Do not relent. But at the same time, do not get practical.
  • Talk about it to your parents, a fun aunt, your friends or a teacher you respect. Talk to someone, it can be anyone. Do not ever feel like you are alone. When you get to be an adult, you will see bullies for what they really are, and you will be relieved that you didn’t give in.
  • People only have as much power as we give them. If you stand up against a bully, people will learn that they can do the same. Bullies are human too. Why do they have power over your life? Take it back from them.

What to do if your child is a bully:

Being a teenager is not easy. Everything feels a hundred times worse than it is, and it often feels like the world is out to get you and that no one understands you. The battle for popularity is a fine way to wreck a person’s self-esteem. Some kids can handle this – others not so much. If you suspect, or have been told, that your child is a bully, the first thing to do is to avoid slipping into denial. No one wants to think of their child as a bully, but flat-out denying it is the worst thing to do. Talk to your child, know what is going on in their lives. Also, make sure they always know that violence (physical, verbal or emotional) is unacceptable and has consequences. Allow them to speak to a psychologist or counsellor, a trusted professional will never judge. Sometimes, all they need is to believe someone is on their side. Do not become a bystander to your child being a bully, do something about it. It could seriously affect their future.

Sources: bullying.org and kidshealth.org

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