While teasing can be a part of growing up, it can also become bullying if it is repetitive or there is a conscious intent to hurt another child. Bullying can be verbal (making threats, name-calling), psychological (excluding children, spreading rumors), or physical (hitting, pushing, taking a child’s possessions). Especially detrimental is cyberbullying: texts, pictures, posts that hurt, humiliate, or threaten a child.
Research indicates that an estimated 20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either perpetrators or victims. Bullying can begin as early as preschool and intensify during transitional stages, such as starting school in 1st grade or moving to middle or high school.
Downingtown area schools have programs specifically designed to raise awareness of bullying behavior and to help parents and teachers deal effectively with it. If you are concerned about your child:
- Check your child’s devices frequently. Teach your child how to report cyberbullying, block callers, and remove pics and videos from the internet- go to http://cyberbullying.org/report/
- Speak with your child’s teacher about the situation
- Describe what s/he has told you or any teasing or bullying that you have witnessed.
- If they have observed similar behavior at school, enlist their help in finding ways to solve the problem.
- If they haven’t noticed any incidences, ask that they keep an eye out for the behavior you described.
- Find out if there could be a reason for the conflict. Ask how your child responds to the teasing, and discuss helping him/her develop a more effective response.
- Be sure to make a follow-up appointment to discuss how things are going. If the problem persists, or the teacher ignores your concerns, and your child starts to withdraw or not want to go to school, consider the possibility of “therapeutic intervention.” Ask to meet with the school counselor or psychologist, or request a referral to the appropriate school professional.