And How To Protect Your Children
Sadly, bullying has become an epidemic and a tragic problem that far too many families have had to address with their children. Sadder yet, a new study recently confirmed that victims may still be dealing with the pain and remaining scars that come with childhood bullying many years later.
A five decade-long nationwide study noted that those who were bullied frequently as children had higher rates of anxiety and suicidal thoughts at age 45, were less likely to be living with a partner, were more isolated, and had lower levels of life satisfaction. Those bullied occasionally were more likely to have psychological distress or depression, poorer cognitive functioning, general health, social support, and quality of life. 1
The latest surveys indicate a staggering 7-15% of American youth are subjected to Cyberbullying, while 18-31% are subjected to school-based bullying. Now knowing that those experiences can also be linked to depression, anxiety and alcohol or drug abuse in adulthood, we can, and must, do better.
Who is Responsible?
There is plenty of blame to go around in modern society, but bullying is a problem that needs an integrated solution involving parents, teachers, student peers, legislators, law enforcement, media and entertainment companies, and Social Media Industry acknowledgement and prevention.
As a Parent, What Can I Do?
As a parent, you may be asking what you can do to prevent raising kids susceptible to bullying behavior, or to being bullied. According to experts at the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents can play a valuable role by raising children to resist violence.2 Parents play a valuable role in reducing violence by raising children in safe and loving homes. Here are a few ways to ensure that you are doing just that:
- Give your children consistent love and attention. Behavior problems and delinquency occur less often in children who have involved parents that make them feel safe and secure. For inexperienced parents and those struggling with ill or special needs children, seeking the help of a pediatrician, physician or psychologist can be enormously helpful. The American Psychological Association can help you identify a qualified psychologist via www.APA.org.
- Make sure your children are supervised. Without proper supervision, it is hard for children to receive guidance on what is expected of them. Know where your children and their friends are at all times. If you are not the one supervising, be sure that someone you trust is, whether that be through after-school activities such as tutoring, clubs and sports, or by other admired adults or family members.
- Show your children appropriate behaviors by the way you act. The behavior, values and attitudes of parents and siblings have a strong influence on children. Be firm with your kids about the dangers of violent behavior and praise them when they solve problems constructively without violence.
- Be consistent about rules and discipline. Children need structure with clear expectations for their behavior. Explain to your children what you expect and the consequences for not following the rules. This will help them learn to behave in ways that are good for them and for those around them.
- Keep violence out of your home. Violence and hostile, aggressive arguments in the home are frightening and harmful to children and may lead them to solve conflicts the same way when they are adults. If people in your home verbally or physically abuse and hurt each other, seek the help of a psychologist or other mental health professional (covered by most health insurance plans). Your children and family will thank you later.
- Try to keep children from seeing too much violence on TV, in movies, and video games. Studies show that seeing a lot of violence can desensitize and have negative effects on children. Talk to your kids about how painful such violence would be in real life, and about the serious lifetime consequences of violent behavior. Help your children stand up to violence and to discourage it in others. Discuss with your children ways to solve problems without violence.
Teach Your Child How to React to Violence and Bullying
Support your children in standing up to violence. Teach them to respond with calm but firm words when others insult, threaten or hit another person.
Tips for Helping Your Child Stand Up Against Violence:
- Teach your kids how admirable and heroic it is to stand up against violence and give them praise and attention for doing so.
- Help them understand it takes more courage and leadership to resist violence than to go along with it.
- Help your children to accept and get along with others from various racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
- Teach them that criticizing others for their differences is hurtful and that name-calling is weak and unacceptable.
- Make sure your child understands that using words to start or encourage violence – or to quietly accept violent behavior -- is harmful.
- Warn your child that bullying and threats can lead to violence.
If this article was helpful to you, please check out the others we've prepared to help bring awareness to the terrible problem of Bullying (October is National Bullying Prevention Month):