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Editorial

What To Do About That Bully!

The Northern Star of Clinton, Minnesota

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It happens everywhere. It's on the playground, on the school bus, before and after school and at the park. Bullies are alive and well. No, they are not a thing of the past. No they just don't disappear. If bullies are not dealt with at an early age they just grow up and get older and do more cruel things.

There's nothing new about bullies. Most people can remember some experience with a bully while growing up. Unfortunately, bullies cause psychological and physical damage to other kids. Consider these figures from studies over the past ten years:

American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims.

77% of students in a Midwestern study say they have been bullied.

In an interview study of 7-to 12-year-olds in rural Minnesota, 69% said there were bullies in their town and over 50% said they had been picked on by these bullies. Bullying included swearing, teasing, throwing things, knocking them down, name-calling, and beating.

The National School Safety Council estimates that 525,000 "attacks, shakedowns, and robberies" occur in an average month in public secondary schools. It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.

These studies show bullying is most frequent in grades 2 through 6, most serious in grades 7 through 9, and tapers off after that. Most research indicates that 10 to 15% of children are regular victims of bullies and that 7 to 9% of school-age children are bullies. Boys are somewhat more likely than girls to be the victims of bullying and are considerably more likely to be bullies. But, interestingly, 30 to 40% of the bullying of girls and 15 to 20% of the bullying of boys is done by girls. What You Can Do if Your Child is the Victim of a Bully? Here are some tips you can try in dealing with that bully Ray attention to your child's reports of school or neighborhood violence.

Watch for signs that a child is being victimized — such as torn clothing, unexplained bruises, moodiness, withdrawn behavior, a drop in grades, lack of friends, of appetite, coming home to use the bathroom, or low self-esteem.

Be suspicious if your child needs extra school supplies or extra lunch money. A bully may be blackmailing your child for things your child claims he or she loses. Take an active role in the school to keep up on potential problems. Report all incidents to school authorities and insist that they ensure your child's safety.

Record bullying incidents.

Work on building your child's self-esteem and encourage assertive, not aggressive, responses.

Teach your children how to respond to aggression. With bullies, they should be assertive and leave the scene without violence. Do not tell children to strike back. This tells children that the only way to fight violence is by using more violence. It makes them feel that they need to solve the problem alone and that parents and teachers don't care enough to help.

Eliminate violent toys, games, TV shows, and movies as much as possible. Discuss and demonstrate cooperative, non-aggressive ways to solve problems.

Avoid physical punishment because it sends the message that using physical force is acceptable. Children disciplined by physical punishment may use physical force to get their way with others.

When aggression is tolerated, everyone loses — the bullies, the victims, and the bystanders. They are all learning that violence is acceptable, and that is not the lesson we want to teach our children.

Bullying can be eliminated if adults and children become partners in this crusade against cruelty.



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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015



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