The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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Health & Fitness

August 23, 2012

Speaking of Health: Dealing with Bullying

— Nearly half of all children in school are bullied at some point, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Yet children are not always the recipient of physical violence. The definition of bullying is aggressive, unwanted behavior that happens more than once, or could potentially happen more than once, and imposes a sense of real or perceived imbalance of power on the victim.

The three most common forms of bullying are:

Verbal bullying

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Racial slurs
  • Gossip
  • Malicious rumors

Physical bullying

  • Hitting/kicking
  • Tripping/pushing
  • Spitting
  • Destroying property

Cyberbullying

  • Harassing emails
  • Abusive texts
  • Intimidating instant messages
  • Persecuting Facebook posts
  • Other social media interactions

Often, children who are bullied are afraid or embarrassed to approach adults with their concerns. Perhaps they are concerned there will be retaliation, or that no one will believe them. Some common warning signs that a child may be the recipient of bullying are:

  • Reluctance to go to school or ride the bus
  • Declining academic performance
  • Headaches/stomachaches
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Damaged clothing or missing personal items
  • Unexplained injuries

The most important thing is to take your child’s situation seriously. Parents and other adults should support their children and have an open line of communication with them.

Encourage them to share their concerns and remain calm, remind them that they are not to blame, and reassure them that you want to help.

Bullying is not a rite of passage and children should not be left to handle it on their own. They need your support and guidance on how to respond to bullying:

  • Don’t fight back
  • Maintain composure
  • Say “Stop” confidently
  • Walk away
  • Use humorous or neutral responses
  • Ask teacher or school officials for help

As a parent, it is important to monitor your child’s cell phone and online activities, especially with social media platforms like Facebook.

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