Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. It is a repeated behavior and can be physical, verbal, or relational. While boys may bully others using more physical means; girls often bully others by social exclusion. Bullying has been part of school, and even workplaces, for years. More recently, though, technology and social media have created a new venue for bullying that has expanded its reach. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online and via cell phones. Websites like Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr and Formspring allow kids to send hurtful, ongoing messages to other children 24 hours a day. Some sites, such as Tumblr and Formspring allow messages to be left anonymously.
Preventing and stopping bullying involves a commitment to creating a safe environment where children can thrive, socially and academically, without being afraid. APA recommends that teachers, parents and students take the following actions to address bullying.
Be knowledgeable and observant
Teachers and administrators need to be aware that although bullying generally happens in areas such as the bathroom, playground, crowded hallways, and school buses as well as via cell phones and computers (where supervision is limited or absent), it must be taken seriously. Teachers and administrators should emphasize that telling is not tattling. If a teacher observes bullying in a classroom, he/she needs to immediately intervene to stop it, record the incident and inform the appropriate school administrators so the incident can be investigated. Having a joint meeting with the bullied student and the student who is bullying is not recommended — it is embarrassing and very intimidating for the student that is being bullied.
Teach your child how to handle being bullied
Until something can be done on an administrative level, work with your child to handle bullying without being crushed or defeated. Practice scenarios at home where your child learns how to ignore a bully and/or develop assertive strategies for coping with bullying. Help your child identify teachers and friends that can help them if they’re worried about being bullied.
Don’t bully back
It may be difficult to not bully back, but as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. Try not to show anger or tears. Either calmly tell the bully to stop bullying or simply walk away.