It might not be an easy thing to do, but it is important for parents to know how to protect their children from bullies. A bully is a person, according to the dictionary, who deliberately intimidates or persecutes someone who is weaker than himself of herself. Bullies can be male or female, and they can intimidate males or females. Believe it or not, there are adult bullies, as well.
It is an established fact that bullies lack self-esteem. Bullying is therefore just an attempt to build-up the bully, hence the reason for them attacking persons who appear to be weaker than themselves. They stay clear of persons who fight back.
Types of Bullying
There are two different types of bullying:
Physical bullying is equated with assault. This means that the person being bullied can show signs of physical abuse, such as –
- breaks, and others.
The matter, when discovered, should be reported to the authorities, including the police, even if it occurs in school. The activity should not be, and is not being taken lightly anymore.
Emotional bullying is more subtle. This type involves –
- The silent treatment
- Having possessions removed or stolen
- Not being picked for teams
- Arguing into submission, etc.
This type of bullying can severely damage a person’s self-confidence, which can have tragic consequences. The activity is not usually easily detected, as the perpetrators tend to be careful to not have witnesses around. If it is happening to a child in school, reporting it to the authorities might not yield any positive results, for that reason.
Telltale Signs of Bullying
There are telltale signs of bullying. A child who is bullied at school may demonstrate a few of the following signs:
- Becoming uncharacteristically short-tempered or moody
- Anxiety, insecurity, or insomnia
- Stealing money from a purse at home
- Becoming quiet, withdrawn and uncommunicative
- Showing lack of respect for others
- Trying to stay with a teacher or adult during breaks
- Expressions of violence in writings or drawings
- Physical signs like bruises, cuts, or torn clothing, etc.
Thankfully, it is possible to protect children from bullies. The first strategy is:
Build-up the child’s self-confidence.
This will keep him from the bully’s line of sight, since bullies are cowards themselves, and only attack persons who appear to be weaker than they are. Bullies tend to avoid persons with a strong sense of character. A child who has a high self-esteem is better able to manage the ups and downs of life, at school, at home, and later at work, and in other relationships. An early start is very beneficial for success. Children who are self-confident, are –
- Able to accept and learn from their own mistakes,
- Confident without being arrogant or conceited,
- Not demoralized by criticism or mild teasing,
- Able to deal with their own feelings,
- Not easily upset by setbacks or obstacles,
- Unlikely to feel a need to belittle others,
- Assertive, but not aggressive in communicating their needs,
- More likely to resist peer pressure,
- Not too worried about failing or looking foolish,
- Able to bounce back from disappointments and failures,
- Able to cope with change,
- Able to say ‘No’, without offending the other person.
Encourage the child to speak up
If the child is being bullied it is important that he knows that he has his parents’ support and help to solve the problem. The child should never be blamed for being weak or a coward, as this only makes matters worse.
Teach the child to deal with bullying in non-violent ways. The child should be taught to –
- Be firm and tell the bully that he is not intimidated by him.
- Walk away from the bully, as some of them may carry weapons.
- Practice self-defense moves, as these can help build self-confidence. The child can be enrolled in classes at recreation centers or community centers without charge or for a small fee.
Encourage the child to make and walk with many good friends
Bullies tend to attack people who are alone. Walking together in groups tends to minimize the chance of being attacked.
Protection from Cyberbullies
Children of varying ages are also being bullied on the World Wide Web. Some of them have been severely emotionally and psychologically traumatized, and a few of them have committed suicide as a result. Bullies in this scenario are helped by the anonymity that the social media on the Internet provides. Again, thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to protect children from online dangers:
- Talk to children about their online activities, and expose them to the dangers of cyber bullying. Put them on notice that their Internet and Smartphone usage will be monitored.
- Set up Google alerts to monitor when your children’s names are mentioned on the web.
- Be your children’s ‘Friend’ on Facebook, and monitor their privacy settings so that you will be able to view their profiles and activities.
- Join other social networks, like Twitter, so you will be able to search and know what is being said about your children.
- Inform teachers if there is a suspicion that your child is being cyberbullied. Teachers are in a position to notice changes in children’s behaviour, and the perpetrator may be a classmate.
- Set up parental monitoring software on home computers and children’s smart phones.
- Check with school authorities to find out whether computer monitoring software is installed on the classroom computers.
- Prohibit your children from having many e-mail addresses, screen names, and social networking accounts.
- Prohibit your children from using geolocation tools and applications on Facebook and Smartphone.
- Carefully observe your children’s use of electronic communications tools. Subtle changes may be an indication that all is not well.