Here are some statistics to reflect on from stopbullying.gov:
- Been Bullied 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying. 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
- Bullied Others Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.
- Seen Bullying 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more. When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.
- Been Cyberbullied 9% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying. 15% of high school students (grades 9–12) were electronically bullied in the past year. However, 55.2% of LGBT students experienced cyberbullying.
If you notice that your child is constantly withdrawing from family interaction or activities you may want to dig a little deeper. Here are some warning signs that your child may be bullied from EmpoweringParents.com:
- Not going to the bathroom at school. A lot of bullies attack in the bathroom, away from cameras and adults and easy place to corner victims. Avoiding unsupervised activities and areas.
- Getting upset after a phone call, text or email.
- Losing friends they previously had.
- Being more isolated and skipping activities that they used to enjoy. Spending more time alone in their rooms.
- Making negative statements about themselves and engaging in negative self-talk.
- If they come home with unexplained bruises, marks or tears on clothes and or school supplies
As fathers we need to listen to our children and observe their non verbals (eye contact, facial expressions, posture, tone of voice) because their behaviors and physical nuances can be good predictors of ongoing bullying at school or other venues. If you suspect that your child is being bullied don’t be afraid to sit down with them one on one and discuss the following as suggested by EmpoweringParents.com:
- Just listen to your child and avoid jumping to conclusions as they recount their bullying experiences to you
- Take your child’s side and make them feel that you are very concerned and want them to feel safe and secure at school (or place where bullying occurs)
- Talk to school officials and arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher and if bullying persists then it may be more appropriate to meet with school counselor or principal to discuss concerns and come up with a plan on how the school will address the bullying
- Talk to family and friends for support. You may even decide to initiate a bullying support group for parents at your school or develop an anti-bullying facebook page for others to share their stories.
- Don’t personalize (especially if you were a victim of bullying growing up) rather listen and ask questions of your child in an open and transparent manner. Avoid taking on the problem on as if it is only yours to deal with.
- Role play scenarios with your child to help them identify assertive responses, helpful adults, healthy boundaries and importance of self-defense, and encouraging your child to be honest about their experiences at school.
- If possible have your child enrolled in self-defense or martial arts classes to improve their self-esteem and learn to defend themselves if necessary.
With the advent of 21st century technology cyberbullying is more common and more pernicious on a day to day basis. Cyberbullying can happen 24/7/365, can be done anonymously, information can be spread virally through social media outlets to a wider audience, there are no geographical limitations, and it is harder to empathize with the victim because they are not face to face with the victim. Cyberbullying can be especially difficult for moms and dads because if unable to pinpoint perpetrator(s) then the best option may be to monitor child’s social media accounts or delete them, and check their cell phone records each month. This may feel overprotective but it may be one text or social media post that uncovers a lengthy abuse or bullying pattern that your child/teen has suffered in silence with.
See more at https://www.empoweringparents.com and https://www.stopbullying.gov
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743)
If you would like to learn more about me or my practice Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, PLLC and have questions feel free to visit my website www.iccounseling.net as well as read my Inner Compass Blog.
Dr. Gerald Brown (Doc Brown) is owner of Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting PLLC in Cornelius, NC and Statesville, NC. He is passionate about fatherhood issues, immigrant concerns, and specializes in trauma work. Doc Brown has presented at various conferences and has a multitude of experience training organizations and corporations in diversity and multicultural resilience. He believes in helping individuals, couples, and families find meaning and integrate that meaning with various resiliencies in order to live purposefully and vibrantly. He is married with two daughters ages 13 and 5.