Every parent has a memory involving a bully. Mine is from kindergarten. Day after day, I was taunted and teased. I dreaded going to school and started having panic attacks. Other kids looked on, but remained silent. I suffered emotional and psychological issues from the repeated incidents.
My mom was a brave woman. She coached me and helped me to understand both the bully and myself better.
“Bullies are liars. Don’t believe anything they say,” she wisely stated. “You don’t have to do what he says, and there’s nothing he can do about it.”
She taught my brother to stand up with me against the bully and together we were able to stop him.
Research reveals how to deal with bullies
As it turns out, my mom was onto something. Decades of psychologists’ research has revealed that the best way to combat a bully is through education and unity.
They recommend teaching your children that bullying is unacceptable in any form and that bystanders play an important role too.
Research also revealed that victims need to know that others accept them and feel their pain. Teach your child how to talk to the victim of a bully: “You didn’t deserve that. What they did was wrong. They shouldn’t treat people that way.”
Shaming the bully does not work, but condemning their behavior does. Most bullies can be taught empathy.
- 28% of students in grades 6–12 experience bullying
- 30% of young people admit to bullying others
- 70% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools
Victims are at an extreme risk of isolation, depression, suicidal thoughts, and profound lifelong mental issues.
Bullies like an audience, so 80% of the time, there are bystanders. However, more than half of the time, when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds. This is even true of cyberbullying, which is just as real a danger to kids. Speaking up takes away a bully’s power.
Signs that your child is being bullied can include:
- Missing belongings
- Unexplained injuries
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Nightmares and anxiety
- Spending more time alone
Educate your child because as Helen Keller put it, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”