Understanding bullying is a key step before we can take action. I discovered more definitions than I can count. I finally created my own definition. There are experts that consider sibling rivalry, any conflict, child abuse, problems between adults at work or home, etc...etc... all bullying. I believe the lack of action about this issue is because we don’t really understand it fully.
Any behavior/activity may be considered to be bullying depending on the who, what, how often and to what effect:
There must be an imbalance of power (age, race, social status with peers, size or number of kids involved) This is not about having a momentary cranky moment or something done to a buddy cause he deserved it... The bully has a reason. They meet their needs and get what they want at whatever cost to the target. It is not about conflict or anger management. Bullies in the worst scenarios reduce their targets to less than human and treat them with complete contempt... There are warning signs if your child is bullying.
Sometimes Understanding can be challenging because of the many different types. It can range from a nasty text message to full on physical assault by one or more children over weeks or more. There are many different types of bullying that we as parents need to be aware of...our children live in a different world. Generally, it starts with cyber or verbal and escalates over time.
Incidents continue to happen over time. Generally, it starts with a period of testing where the Bully gadges the targets response and whether or not peers will accept, ignore or approve of the tactics the bully is using. The bullying will continue and may escalate depending on whether the Bully gets his needs met without consequence. The level (or degree) of bullying can help you determine solutions. Of course, we must also keep in mind just because it stops does not mean there are no long term effects on the bully and the bullied child. Be prepared and get to know all the facts so you can help your child overcome any of the effects.
If it is effecting the target negatively it can be considered to be bullying. Some kids can be bullied and it just rolls off their back. It teaches them how to speak up and be assertive. I spoke with one young lady and she stated it made her stronger. However, her sister suffered immensely and ended up with depression. Similar circumstances can effect the targeted child differently. Bullying can change who they are and can be devastating. There are long and short term effects on the target.
However, there are also long and short term effects on the child who is being hurtful.
Not to mention all the children who watch either as part of it or just witnesses. Violence changes who we are...what we find acceptable...how we see the world.
In all my research, I have discovered this issue has a broad reach and many "experts" define it this way and that...but for us parents to stay on course and deal with the issue understanding bullying is a good start.
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More Suggested reading:
More about how bullies are made
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