You Can Help Stop Bullying
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 have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Types of Bullying
There are three types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things.
- Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships.
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions.
Although bullying and harassment sometimes overlap, not all bullying is harassment and not all harassment is bullying.
Where and When Bullying Happens
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet called cyber bullying.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.
Parents Can Help Prevent Bullying
Parents play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. If you know or suspect that your child is involved in bullying, there are several resources that may help.
- Recognize the warning signs that your child is involved in bullying. They could be being bullied, bullying others, or witnessing bullying. Although these signs could signal other issues, you should talk to your child if they display any sort of behavioral or emotional changes. Many times kids won’t ask for help, so it is important to know what to look for. If your child is at immediate risk of harming himself or others, get help right away.
- Learn what bullying is and what it is not. Understanding what bullying is is the first step in forming a plan to prevent or respond to bullying with your child. Many behaviors that look like bullying may be just as serious, but may require different response strategies.
- Cyberbullying often requires different strategies than in-person bullying. Learn how to work with your kids to prevent cyberbullying and how to respond when it occurs.
- Utilize tips and tools to talk to your child about bullying. Opening lines of communication before your child is involved in bullying makes it easier for them to tell you when something happens. It is also important to work with a school to help prevent bullying before it starts.
- If you know or suspect bullying has occurred, learn how to find out what has happened with your child. Understanding what has happened can also help in communicating with school or community officials about the situation.
- If you have determined bullying has occurred, learn how you and school or community officials can work together to support your child, whether they were bullied, bullied others, or witnessed bullying. Learn also about considerations for specific groups.
- If bullying is occurring at school, learn about what your state requires schools to do in your state’s anti-bullying law.
- If you have worked with your child and your school and need additional assistance, find resources to help address the situation.
To learn more about bullying and what you can do about it, check out StopBullying.gov or go to Michigan's OK2SAY. OK2SAY is a program designed to empower Michigan students, parents, school personnel, community mental health service programs, and law enforcement to share and respond to student safety threats.