One of Jacksonville’s leading pediatricians shares her insights on bullying trends within our society.
Bullying has now become such a staple within our culture, becoming imbedded in our homes, schools, work places, communities and even computers. Statistics show that 80% of us have seen someone get bullied, and 50% of us have been a victim of bullying at one point in our lives. Unfortunately, 25% of those victims are bullied repeatedly and experience serious long-term effects from their terrible experiences.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, bullying is defined as a form of aggression in which a child deliberately harms another in a frequent, constant manner. The harm could be physical, or it could be intimidating and manipulating a peer who is typically perceived as helpless. The behavior is aggressive; the bully feels as if he or she has power over their victim.
What if your child is the bully?
Research shows that children with a lack of social interactions, dysfunctional family relationships, low parental supervision, impulsive and aggressive behaviors, and an attraction to violence are at a higher risk of becoming bullies themselves. Bullies can be popular and dominant in their social groups or even isolated, depressed, and easily pressured. Children who have been bullied or abused may then become physically or verbally aggressive towards others they feel they can dominate. It’s a scary cycle.
Children at risk for being bullied are often between 6th and 10th grade and seen as weak, defenseless, unpopular, and different from the majority. Changes in behavior such as poor sleep habits, nightmares, worsening grades, lack of interest in school and extracurricular activities can be seen in children who are victims. Late signs of bullying are self-destructive behaviors, such as suicidal thoughts or running away from home to avoid the nonstop problem.
So how can you help?
Bullying is greatly underestimated because it is rarely reported by kids. Statistics reveal that in 85% of bullying cases, no intervention or effort is made to stop the bullying from taking place. Children who are bullied feel helpless, weak, isolated and overly humiliated. They desperately want to be in control of the situation without being a “tattletale” or feel like a “loser.”
An active approach to prevent or stop bullying is to start by talking to your child and collecting anonymous surveys at school to help identify unforeseen problems. By demonstrating respect and inclusion for all students, teachers and administrators create a safe school environment that focuses on education and a respectful environment in the home. Students can learn to speak up and express their feelings and thoughts on bullying, even if they have been a bully or victim in the past. Parents can also get involved with the school by volunteering, which has been shown to enhance positivity at school. School safety committees are a way to unite school administrators, parents, and students to create policies on bullying.
For more information, you are welcome to attend a Bullying Workshop on October 30, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at our Ponte Vedra office: 1102 Florida A1A #104, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 (904) 273-6533