It’s an epidemic. We have lost children to this horrible epidemic. Our children battle this epidemic every day. The news headlines are packed with children falling victim to this epidemic. This epidemic is bullying!
Sadly, this week at my child’s school, I was witness to bullying. This event occurred during school pick-up outside near the parking lot. Although this case did not involve a child with special needs, it made me begin to think how vulnerable our children are to bullying on a daily basis.
What is bullying?
Bullying is any form of aggressive, unwanted behavior involving a real or perceived power. This type of behavior is often repeated and continues until corrective action is taken. Our children see bullying in various forms: threats, online cyber-bullying, rumors, verbal attacks and physical attacks.
Who Gets Bullied?
Sadly, all children are at risk of being bullied. Research has shown that some individuals are more likely to be bullied. One such group includes children with disabilities. Research on this topic has shown that 60% of children with disabilities report being bullied, compared to 25% of all children. Generally, children who are perceived as different have a higher chance of being bullied. Children that appear weaker or have low self-esteem are often victim to bullies. These risk factors do not mean someone outside the suggested groups above cannot and will not be bullied. Any child can be bullied.
Who Are The bullies?
Many times, the bullies are children with low self-esteem or victims of abuse themselves. Some bullies seem well adjusted but are excessively concerned with the perception others have so they use bullying to be popular or dominate others in order to gain a sense of control. Any child has the ability to be a bully.
How do parents prevent bullying?
As parents, we need to help our children understand bullying and teach our children how to resist bullying in a safe manner. As role models, we have to stress that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our own household. We need to model appropriate treatment of others, friends, family, and strangers.
One very important way to help our children with the issue of bullying is to communicate with them, listen to our children, ask about their lives, and take an active role in their social development.
Although we can take steps to prevent bullying, this does not safeguard our children 100%! We have to encourage our children to trust in adults at their school and home to help if a bullying situation is beyond their control. Our children must understand that reporting a bully, even when indirectly involved, is a good step to stopping the behavior.
We can also teach our children the power of intervention. Research has suggested that 50% of bullying stops when a peer steps in to help. Teach your child to stand up for others or go for help in bully situations.
Laws Against Bullying
Forty-seven states have bullying laws. Learn what your state laws say about this behavior.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are federal laws that directly apply to bullying. These Acts play a role when child with a disability is denied an equal opportunity to education.
Stop Bullying Once And For All!
Help our children know that they are not alone. As parents, teachers and community leaders, children who have been bullied should know we care! All humans deserve dignity and respect and it is everyone’s responsibility to uphold this right for everyone.
If you see a bully, stop them or report them. If you can help a friend, do so. Stand up against bullying. Partner with your schools, churches and community leaders to end this epidemic and build a safe world for our children to live in.