Nicklaus Children's Hospital - Variety Children’s Hospital

10/13/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/13/2021 08:26

National Bulling Prevention Month: How to Help Children Who Are Being Bullied

Bullying has become a widespread public health crisis. In commemoration of October's National Bullying Prevention Month, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss this important issue, as well as things parents and other adults can do to support a child who is being bullied, either in-person or virtually.

Bullying involves unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another person or group of people that is intended to cause harm or distress to the victim. The behavior is deliberate, occurs more than once, and always involves a power imbalance between the aggressor(s) and the victim. Bullying can take many forms, including:

  • Physical - hitting, kicking, or tripping someone
  • Verbal -teasing or name-calling someone
  • Relational - purposefully excluding someone to make that person feel bad or spreading rumors about someone

A form of bullying that has increased dramatically in recent years and is of great concern is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can involve the use of email or any social networking site (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter), or simply using a mobile phone to send messages to someone. More specifically, cyberbullying may include using any electronic device to:

  • Share negative or false information about someone
  • Send threatening or unkind messages
  • Post pictures, videos or private information about someone without their consent in order to humiliate that person
  • Assume a false identity online in order to trick someone into an being in an online relationship, also known as "catfishing"

The main difference between bullying and cyberbullying is that cyberbullying occurs electronically and can be done anonymously and/or constantly. According to the CDC, in 2021, 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied at school during the last year and 1 in 6 high school students reported being cyberbullied. Research shows that bullying is more common in middle school and cyberbullying is more common among high school students. In addition, males tend to bully in school settings at higher rates than females, while females are more likely to bully in the form of spreading rumors and also engage in cyberbullying more than their male counterparts.

Negative Impact of Bullying on Mental Health

Research has shown that children's physical and emotional health are negatively impacted by bullying, regardless of whether the child is the bully victim of the person committing the bullying. Children and adolescents who are bullied are at increased risk for:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Substance use
  • Displaying violent behavior toward others
  • Academic difficulties
  • Suicide

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Who is being Bullied/Cyberbullied?

  • Encourage your child to speak to you about any bullying behavior that may be occurring and make sure they feel safe. It is challenging for children to talk about these issues. If your child does not feel comfortable discussing the issue with you, consider seeking further help from a mental health clinician.
  • Monitor your child's use of social media, whichincludes the website and social networking sites they are visiting and length of time they are spending on these sites.
  • Make sure to take screenshots of any messages, pictures, videos as evidence and take note of how frequently the cyberbullying is occurring. Once evidence is gathered, report the abuse to the corresponding social networking site and also take steps to block the person committing the bullying.
  • Contactyour child's school if necessary to address the issue. If the school is not responding appropriately, consider contacting the school superintendent or the local board of education.
  • Consider involving the police if physical threats are involved or if you feel your child is in immediate danger.