Determine If It’s Bullying
Not every negative thing said is bullying. According to StopBullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or has the potential to happen more than once.
You can learn more about the different types of bullying here.
Is Your Child a Likely Target?
Some research suggests that students are most likely to be bullied because of perceived differences, such as:
- Appearance or body size
- Perceived sexual orientation
- Degree of masculinity or femininity
- Performance in school
- Race/ethnicity/national origin and/or religion
- Low-income household
- Youth with disabilities and other special health needs
Is Your Child Being Bullied/Cyberbullied?
As a parent you would want to help your child if they were being bullied or cyberbullied, but what do you look for? Here are a few signs of bullying/cyberbullying. NOTE: These signs do not show that bullying is definitely happening; rather, these signs show bullying may be happening.
Signs of Potential Bullying/Cyberbullying
- Appearance of torn clothing or damaged items
- If your child appears anxious, upset, or angry when using their devices
- If they suddenly doesn’t want to use their devices
- Long period of health related symptoms over like weight loss/gain, headache, stomachaches
- If they are suddenly having trouble sleeping
- If your child is unwilling to talk about or share information about their online accounts
- Makes comments about life being meaningless, hopeless, or even commenting on suicide
Monitoring for cyberbullying
Monitoring your child’s devices can help spot bullying quickly. The Bark app is a great option for this as it recognizes certain keywords related to bullying and will alert you. You can adjust its sensitivity as well. You can view a list of all the monitoring apps I recommend here: Monitoring and Screen Time Apps
What Can You Do If It’s Bullying?
If the behaviors meet the criteria of bullying, what should you do? Here are the next steps:
- Document all of the behaviors and incidents. Record dates, times, people involved, and screenshot the cyber bullying.
- If it’s happening online, you can report it on the social media app. Most apps have strict bullying policies.
- If the bullying rises to the level of a crime, you can report it to the police.
- On some social media platforms, you can block a user.
- If it’s happening at school, you can bring it to the attention of the administration.
- Remind your child about the lessons in my presentation and how the bully is looking for a certain reaction. Explosive reactions give power to the bully. Keeping calm and ignoring allows your child to keep his power.
- Build your child up. Focus on all of their positives to build their confidence. Do some of their favorite activities. Keep them active. Keep lines of communication open.
NOTE: If your child ever talks about life being meaningless or suicide please do NOT take these comments lightly! You can call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 (para ayuda en español, llame al 988). You can also contact the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).