Bullying is a serious issue affecting our children today. The mindset of kids just being kids is quite harmful can have lasting effects on your child’s development and future success. The vast majority of bullying occurs at school starting as young as preschool that peeks in middle and high school.
Most parents will be surprised that their child has or will experience bulling:
- Each day 160,000 children miss school because of bullying or being afraid they will be bullied
- 83% of girls and 79% of boys report being bullied in school or online
- A child is bullied every 7 minutes while on a playground
- 1 in 10 teens drop out of school due to repeated bullying
- Less than 30% of children tell an adult, parent or teacher they were bullied
What is bullying?
Bullying occurs when a person or group repeatedly tries to hurt someone who is considered to be weak, an outsider, socially awkward or an easy target.
Direct Bullying involves personal attacks to the child, such as insults, teasing, testing, daring them to do harmful actions, pushing, hitting, kicking, stealing, sexual comments and gestures, and can escalate into full scale beatings.
Indirect Bullying occurs when bullies use their power and social clout to spread rumors, destroy or deface belongings and isolate the child socially by convincing others to reject and avoid contact with the target.
Why does bullying occur?
School aged children who bully do so for many different factors:
- Children who are bullied often in turn bully others
- Children who feel neglected at home may act out for attention
- Children are not taught bullying is wrong or receive inconsistent punishment for bullying
- Children model bullying from television, movies, video games, and home environment
- Bullying can elevate social status in school and makes them seem cooler
- To fit in with their peers and be socially accepted within their group
- They feel threatened by or are jealous of others
However, the ultimate reason is that bullying makes them feel more powerful and better about themselves.
Top places bullying occurs
The top bullying locations are:
- School (Classroom, Hallways, Cafeteria, Bathrooms, Gym Class, Playground)
- School Bus and Bus Stop
- Online and smartphones (social networks, text messages, instant messengers, message boards, and emails)
A scary new form of bullying is now sharing inappropriate photos and videos online that shame and embarrass the victim who is often coerced or tricked into sending them to the bully or supposed friend.
Effects and Signs of Bullying
Bullying has both short term and long term effects, especially as it often occurs during the most formative years of a child’s development. In addition to physical injury, the psychological effects can last their entire lifetime, causing low self-esteem and self-worth.
Watch for these tell-tale signs of bullying:
- Starts making excuses to avoid school
- Becomes withdrawn
- Does not enjoy activities they normally loved
- Avoid group activities
- Regresses with bed wetting and potty training
- Comes home with visible physical injuries
- Personal items and toys keep going missing or lost
- Refuse to ride the bus to school
- Have a change in sleeping habits or has nightmares more often
- Their grades start dropping
- They stop being active on social networks they normally spend a lot of time on
- Talk of suicide or helplessness
How to bully proof your child
The first step to protecting your children is to understand that bullying is rarely stopped by others. Adult intervention is estimated to be around just 4%, while peer/classmate intervention is just 11%. This leaves 85% of the kids to fend for themselves against bullies. Laws against bullying, especially with cyber bullying, are still weak and rarely enforced. Most teachers in a school setting are not even aware bullying is taking place in their classroom or school. We must be proactive and not leave it to others to protect our children.
Follow these steps to bully proof your child from the harmful effects it can cause:
- Talk to your child about bullying and make sure they know:
- If it ever happens that you are there to help protect them, so they should not hesitate to tell you, otherwise it can keep getting worse. Especially when the bullies threaten to hurt you if you tell, that is the most important time to get help from an adult and you.
- If they are bullied at school or the bus to tell their teachers and school office. They should do this if they see another student being bullied too rather than try and get involved and confront the bully in the heat of the moment.
- Review basic safety tips, such as acting brave and non-confrontational by telling the bully to stop and then removing yourself from the situation; ignoring a bully can also show you do not care and they will most likely get bored trying to bother you; avoid being alone in the bathroom with bullies, as this is where the most brutal physical attacks usually occur. If they are being followed by bullies, to tell a teacher right away, and ask they check in if you don’t come out in a couple minutes.
- Make sure they know it is not okay to bully others and that you won’t accept that behavior form them. Then follow through with the consequences.
- Build your child’s self-esteem and confidence
- Strongly reaffirm that bullies are mean because they do not feel good about themselves and it doesn’t have to do with them personally.
- Show love and attention and do not dismiss their feelings. Empathize, spend time and show it is okay to talk about their feelings to you. This opens up a great communication channel for you to teach them.
- Encourage your kids to be active in sports and physical activities.
How our martial arts classes help with bullying
Bullies typically look for easy targets who appear unconfident and weak, this is actually something that street predators also use to identify victims. Our martial arts classes for children have been specifically designed to use positive reinforcement, reward systems, goal setting, discipline, strength and coordination drills, public performance through belt testing, and progressive self-defense training to build high self-esteem and confidence in our students.
Your child will also learn how to channel their emotions, stay calm in stressful situations and control their flight or fight responses when in those dangerous bully situations. This will give them the best chance to not only avoid being bullied, but also eliminate the negative psychological effects that bullying can have on their mental development.
By simply having your children involved in our martial arts programs they will gradually gain confidence in a fun and safe environment that in a worst case scenario will allow them to escape a physically aggressive bully and in a best case build the foundations for their future success in life.