Bullying behavior may seem rather insignificant compared to kids
bringing guns to school and getting involved with drugs. Bullying
is often dismissed as part of growing up. But it's actually an early
form of aggressive, violent behavior. Statistics show that one in
four children who bully will have a criminal record before the age
Bullies often cause serious problems that schools, families, and
neighbors ignore. Teasing at bus stops, taking another child's lunch
money insults and threats, kicking or shoving — it's all fair game
to a bully Fears and anxieties about bullies can cause some children
to avoid school, carry a weapon for protection, or even commit more
A Word About the Victim
Although anyone can be the target of bullying behavior, the victim
is often singled out because of his or her psychological traits
more than his or her physical traits. A typical victim is likely
to be shy, sensitive, and perhaps anxious or insecure. Some children
are picked on for physical reasons such as being overweight or physically
small, having a disability, or belonging to a different race or
A Word About the Bully
Some bullies are outgoing, aggressive, active, and expressive.
They get their way by brute force or openly harassing someone. This
type of bully rejects rules and regulations and needs to rebel to
achieve a feeling of superiority and security. Other bullies are
more reserved and manipulative and may not want to be recognized
as harassers or tormentors. They try to control by smooth-talking,
saying the "right" thing at the "right" time,
and lying. This type of bully gets his or her power discreetly through
cunning, manipulation, and deception.
As different as these two types may seem, all bullies have some
characteristics in common. They:
- are concerned with their own pleasure
- want power over others
- are willing to use and abuse other people to get what they want
- feel pain inside, perhaps because of their own shortcomings
- find it difficult to see things from someone else's perspective
What You Can Do
- Listen to children. Encourage children to talk about school,
social events, other kids in class, the walk or ride to and from
school so you can identify any problems they may be having.
- Take children's complaints of bullying seriously. Probing a
seemingly minor complaint may uncover more severe grievances.
Children are often afraid or ashamed to tell anyone that they
have been bullied, so listen to their complaints.
- Watch for symptoms that children may be bullying victims, such
as withdrawal, a drop in grades, torn clothes, or needing extra
money or supplies.
- Tell the school or organization immediately if you think that
your children are being bullied. Alerted caregivers can carefully
monitor your children's actions and take steps to ensure your
- Work with other parents to ensure that the children in your
neighborhood are supervised closely on their way to and from school.
- Don't bully your children yourself, physically or verbally.
Use nonphysical, consistently enforced discipline measures as
opposed to ridiculing, yelling at, or ignoring your children when
- Help children learn the social skills they need to make friends.
A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely
to be bullied or to bully others.
- Praise children's kindness toward others. Let children know
that kindness is valued.
- Teach children ways to resolve arguments without violent words
or actions. Teach children self-protection skills — how to walk
confidently, stay alert to what's going on around them, and to
stand up for themselves verbally.
- Provide opportunities for children to talk about bullying, perhaps
when watching TV together, reading aloud, playing a game, or going
to the park or a movie.
- Recognize that bullies may be acting out feelings of insecurity,
anger, or loneliness. If your child is a bully, help get to the
root of the problem. Seek out specific strategies you can use
at home from a teacher, school counselor, or child psychologist.
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Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council