Recognizing and Preventing Bullying

September 22nd, 2009
  1. All teenagers take risks as a normal part of growing up. Risk-taking is the tool an adolescent uses to define and develop his or her identity.
  2. Healthy adolescent risk-taking behaviors which tend to have a positive impact on an adolescent’s development can include participation in sports, the development of artistic and creative abilities, volunteer activities, travel, running for school office, making new friends, constructive contributions to the family or community, and others.
  3. Negative risk-taking behaviors which can be dangerous for adolescents include drinking, smoking, drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sexual activity, disordered eating, self-mutilation, running away, stealing, bullying, gang activity and violence. Bullying can be verbal, written (online), or physical and involves threats or intimidation.
  4. Parents and teachers need to be aware of the signals along the pathway to bullying. Often unrecognized in its early forms, such behavior can easily switch over, such as when an assertive child becomes an aggressive child. Assessment and prevention programs need to start early in the schools.
  5. More than half of our middle school- and high school-aged children tell us that they are bullied during their school years. Ten percent say they are bullied on a regular basis.
  6. Listen to and spend time with your children. A lack of parental supervision and time is one of the best predictors of children being involved in bullying and committing violent acts.
  7. There are “red flags” which help parents and teachers identify a child or teen at high risk to be a bully. Children or adolescents who bully thrive on controlling or dominating others. Bullies may be upset, angry or depressed about events at home or school.
  8. Bullying behavior is not unstoppable. It can be decreased or even prevented entirely if the risk factors are reduced or eliminated. Parents need to address this behavior at home and work collaboratively with schools. Assessments by trained mental health professionals need to take place in schools. Children who are bullied experience real suffering that affects their lives, some have even made suicide attempts. If a child is bullied, it is important to get help.
  9. Violence and bullying in the media plays an important role. Children and adults alike are flooded with violent and aggressive images. Parents need to watch and listen to the media messages their children are receiving, and monitor and discuss them with the children, recognizing when children are over stimulated.
  10. Bullying in communities where children and adolescents grow up is everyone’s problem. The solution lies in committed individuals, parents, teachers, and children themselves working together as a team.