As we grow up we are often teased by others. That seemingly harmless behavior becomes bullying when it's repetitive and/or when there's a conscious intent to hurt another. Whether it is name-calling, excluding another person/child or being physically abusive… Researchers have estimated that between 20%-30% of school-age children and teens are involved in incidents, as either the bully or victim. Not sure about you, but that number is way too high to me!
When to Be Concerned.
There are signs that you can look for if you think your child may be affected by bullying.
Are they becoming more withdrawn from you and at school? Is that withdrawal in tune with a sudden drop in their grades? Are they wanting to avoid school completely? These are just a few behavioral changes that may indicate that your child is being bullied.
Some thoughts to help.
Showing your child empathy and a willingness to listen to their feelings will give them a space where they can recount incidences of teasing or bullying. Gently encouraging them to verbalize what they are going through enables them to share their experiences with you and move forward towards problem-solving. You can find a more comprehensive list of symptoms and ways to assist your child here from Scholastic Parents Magazine.
Online Bullying is also a thing.
When your child becomes a teenager, the bullying (often referred to as Cyberbullying) can occur where the teen bully uses social media platforms to tease their victims. Interestingly enough, research shows that adolescent girls are more likely to have experienced cyberbullying than boys. In addition, teen girls are also more likely to spread rumors, while boys are more likely to post hurtful pictures or videos. All this being said, experts don’t believe that forbidding technology from your child is the answer. The best approach seems to be simply teaching your kids right from wrong. This post on Cyberbullying digs into the research more, and offers ways to help guide your teen and work with your schools to put a stop to this harmful behavior.
Adult Bullying is also a thing.
Many of us think that as we become adults we outgrow the bullying behaviors and culture. Yet the statistics showing the amount of adults who experience bullying in the workplace are alarming. The research from Dr. Judy Blando (University of Phoenix) has proven that almost 75% of employees surveyed had been affected by workplace bullying, whether as a target or a witness. Perhaps you have witnessed this?
Workplace bullying by supervisors, superiors, and co-workers is often a form of power struggle. As there is no legal definition of bullying, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) states that "usually if a person genuinely feels they are being singled out for unfair treatment by a boss or colleague they are probably being bullied.” According to the Workplace Bullying Institute the definition of abusive conduct is: threatening, humiliating, intimidating, sabotaging behaviors which prevents work from getting done.
Making it Stop.
Documenting the abusive behavior, addressing the bully directly and bringing your concerns to a supervisor are just a few beginning steps you can take. Christine Comaford with Forbes Magazine, outlines several helpful ways here to confront the work bully and change the work culture that developed to enable the bullying in the first place.
It’s important to remember that neither you, a working adult, nor your child should put up with bullying in any form. As I wrote in last month's, The Gossip Effect blog post, learning how to confront and communicate with the people in your life directly, can teach you and your child, how to work through difficult situations. As daunting as conflict and confrontation can be, the end result is healthier communication styles for all involved.
As always, if I can be helpful in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
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