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Beating Bullying

Oct 11, 2007
There is nothing more heartbreaking than a parent sending a small child off to school and then discovering the little one's day was mentally anguishing or even physically brutal. Bullying is rough, and even more so for small children who don't have the skills to deter the abuse. They don't know what to do and simply endure the situation until someone comes to the rescue. Beating bullying is possible, and the more people that fight against it, the less children will have to suffer the issue.

Why some children become bullies involves many reasons. Some enjoy the power that comes from belittling others. They feel bigger as a result. Some children bully because they can, and because they get away with it. They may like the attention. They may even be popular kids supported in their behavior by others. Bullies may be children who have learned the behavior from parents, adults or other role models (not all role models are good ones). They may be children who have issues of their own that are acting out to have some sense of control in their lives.

Whatever the reason, bullying needs to be dealt with and stopped as quickly as possible. Here are some ways children and adults can reduce bullying:

Encourage children to talk. Bullied kids are terrified and are afraid of the consequences of speaking out against the treatment they're receiving. They fear that by telling an adult about the bullying, the situation will only get worse. Bullied children may try to tell an adult about the problem but end up feeling patronized or dismissed. Encourage kids to speak out against bullying and to keep talking until someone listens.

Have children buddy up with a friend. Children who are alone are easy targets for bullies. By encouraging groups of children to walk together to school, play together and never to be alone, parents create a protection against a child being caught alone.

Show no fear is a big factor in who is bullied and who is not. Standing tall, walking proud and showing strength are aspects that may keep bullies at bay. Emotions such as fear and nervousness paired with physical body language like hunched shoulders and downcast eyes are signs of submission, the perfect fodder for a bully to feed on.

While the situation shouldn't be ignored, ignoring the bully may reduce problems. Reacting to a bully's taunts and teasing is exactly what the bully wants. If the bully's jeers don't get the desired results and provide no reaction, he or she may stop the behavior.

Reinforce that no one has to put up with bullying. Encourage children to stand up for themselves and say, "No! Stop it!" in a loud voice. While this is the opposite of ignoring a bully, bullies pick on children who aren't a match for them and who are easy to upset. They may avoid children who seem strong and intolerant of the bad behavior.

Parents, authorities and any adult aware of bullying need to take charge of the situation immediately. Do what it takes to get the bullying to stop, even if it means moving or changing schools. The long-term scars and mental abuse that bully victims bear aren't worth trying to wait until the problem goes away, something that may take a very long time. Never ignore a cry for help or a child's tentative reaching out. Personal safety and security are a must for a child to grow up healthy and with good self-esteem. Together, adults and children can stop bullying.
About the Author
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