is a common experience for many children and adolescents.
Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are
bullied at some time during their school years, and at least
10% are bullied on a regular basis.
behavior can be physical or verbal. Boys tend to use physical
intimidation or threats, regardless of the gender of their
victims. Bullying by girls is more often verbal, usually with
another girl as the target. Recently, bullying has even been
reported in online chat rooms and through e-mail.
who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere
with their social and emotional development, as well as their
school performance. Some victims of bullying have even attempted
suicide rather than continue to endure such harassment and
and adolescents who bully thrive on controlling or dominating
others. They have often been the victims of physical abuse
or bullying themselves. Bullies may also be depressed, angry
or upset about events at school or at home. Children targeted
by bullies also tend to fit a particular profile. Bullies
often choose children who are passive, easily intimidated,
or have few friends. Victims may also be smaller or younger,
and have a harder time defending themselves.
suspect your child is bullying others, it's important to seek
help for him or her as soon as possible. Without intervention,
bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional and
legal difficulties. Talk to your child's pediatrician, teacher,
principal, school counselor, or family physician. If the bullying
continues, a comprehensive evaluation by a child and adolescent
psychiatrist or other mental health professional should be
arranged. The evaluation can help you and your child understand
what is causing the bullying, and help you develop a plan
to stop the destructive behavior.
suspect your child may be the victim of bullying ask him or
her to tell you what's going on. You can help by providing
lots of opportunities to talk with you in an open and honest
important to respond in a positive and accepting manner. Let
your child know it's not his or her fault, and that he or
she did the right thing by telling you. Other specific suggestions
include the following:
your child what he or she thinks should be done. What's
already been tried? What worked and what didn't?
help from your child's teacher or the school guidance counselor.
Most bullying occurs on playgrounds, in lunchrooms, and
bathrooms, on school buses or in unsupervised halls. Ask
the school administrators to find out about programs other
schools and communities have used to help combat bullying,
such as peer mediation, conflict resolution, and anger management
training, and increased adult supervision.
encourage your child to fight back. Instead, suggest that
he or she try walking away to avoid the bully, or that they
seek help from a teacher, coach, or other adult.
your child practice what to say to the bully so he or she
will be prepared the next time.
your child practice being assertive. The simple act of insisting
that the bully leave him alone may have a surprising effect.
Explain to your child that the bully's true goal is to get
your child to be with friends when traveling back and forth
from school, during shopping trips, or on other outings.
Bullies are less likely to pick on a child in a group.
child becomes withdrawn, depressed or reluctant to go to school,
or if you see a decline in school performance, additional
consultation or intervention may be required. A child and
adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional
can help your child and family and the school develop a strategy
to deal with the bullying. Seeking professional assistance
earlier can lessen the risk of lasting emotional consequences
for your child.
information see Facts for Families:
#33 Conduct Disorder
#55: Understanding Violent Behavior in Children
#65: Children's Threats
#66: Helping Teenagers with Stress.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your
Adolescent (1999 Harper collins).
#80 Updated 03/01