The issue of bullying has grown over the past decade. School and neighborhood bullies affect hundreds of thousands of elementary, middle and high school students across the nation. The effects that bullying can have on your child can be life long. Child behavior and child psychology experts find that victims of bullying often exhibit lower self-esteem, social development challenges and certain fears that keep them victims of future bullying.

Words & Terms

Bully: One or more individuals, who intentionally cause fear, harm or intimidate others.

Victims: The person who is being bullied.

Bystander: One or more individuals who are watching a victim being bullied. These individuals may encourage the bully or support the actions of the bully.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is initiated by one or more individuals with the intent to cause harm, fear or control over another person. The bully generally has more social and physical power. Bullying is often repeated with the same individuals harassing the same victims. Other common factors include:

• Bullies often feel justified in causing feelings or physical pain.

• Bullying is different than fights or conflicts. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or control.

• Bullies are self-centered. They bully to fulfill a pleasure, desire or need.

• Bullies are often involved in other inappropriate acts that may include vandalism, theft, fighting, drug abuse, truancy and police issues.

• Bullying often causes victims to withdraw and become depressed. Some victims take extreme measures that may include violent revenge or suicide. Approximately 70% of the school shooters were victims of bullying.

Common Forms of Bullying

Physical: This type of bullying involves physical contact with the victim’s body. Hitting, punching, shoving, pushing, tripping and other acts of potentially harmful contact are common.

Emotional: This type of bullying is intended to cause psychological or mental pain. The bully uses words, gestures or written messages to cause the victim to feel sad or hurt. “Cyberbullying” is now a common method used by many bullies. This involve the use of computers or phones to e-mail, chatline, text or instant message someone with the intent to cause emotional stress or pain.

Verbal: This type of bullying involves words that are meant to be intimidating, embarrassing or hurtful gossip. Using inappropriate words such as slut, whore and bitch are common.

Racial: This type of bullying is meant to attack individual or group cultures, skin color, accents or beliefs. Racial slurs and taunts are common and cause victims to feel threatened, isolated or rejected.

Sexual: Sexual bullying singles out victims because of their gender or sexual orientation. Unwelcome sexual advances are common. Victims who appear or are of a different sexual orientation than the bully are often called “gay,” “faggot,” and other names with intent to cause emotional pain.

Why Bullies Bully?

• To become more popular

• To act out the behavior that was demonstrated to them

• Impulsive behavior or action

• To control others

• Failure in school or other life activities

• Jealous tendencies

• Feel or gain enjoyment by watching others suffer

• Desire to look tough

• Social status gain


Cyberbullying uses technology such as the internet, text messaging and other forms of computerization to attack victims. More and more students are using blogs, instant messaging and chat lines to embarrass, humiliate, threaten or cause fear in others. Cell phones and text messaging is also becoming a more frequent form of technology to bully an individual. The impact can be more devastating for the following reasons:

• Bullies can distribute negative information worldwide at a fast pace without the victim being able to retrieve the information.

• Others may add to the bullying message by logging on to the blog or instant messaging.

• Cyberbullying is easy passed on from one sender to the next at a click of a button.

Creativity is endless. Some individuals edit pictures and create false messages to go with the picture often placing the victim in a bad situation that is not true.

• Rumors and gossip are spread at the speed of a “click.”

Signs That A Child May Be A Victim

• Your child is easily distressed.

• Your child prefers to be alone.

• Your child has unexplained bruises or sores

• Your child cries without telling you why.

• Your child displays symptoms of ongoing sadness or depression

• Your child exhibits poor self-esteem.

• Your child often visits the school nurse with complaints of headaches and/or stomach aches.

• Your child does not want to attend school or other outside activities.

What Can Parents and Schools Do?

Identify the Bully

Parents may not realize that their child is bullying other students. Some parents believe that if their child is picking on other students that this is just a normal growing process for their child and developmental in nature. Other parents believe their child may not be bullying, but “paying back” others for what was done to their child. Bullies are usually aggressive, lack compassion and display strong mood swings. Bullies usually have average intelligence, display a high level of self-esteem and are socially accepted by his or her peers. Bullies often are self-centered, feel justified, seek attention and falsely blames or accuses others.

Prevent Cyberbullying

The following strategies can be implemented by parents to prevent cyberbullying:

• Discuss cyberbullying with your child. Let your child know of its harmful effects. Let your child know that cyberbullying may be against the law!

• Keep the computer in a place where you can see it. Cyberbullying often goes on when adults are not present. Many parents do not allow a computer hooked up to the Internet to be placed in a child’s bedroom or other room out of visual range of a parent’s eyes.

• Establish rules and consequences for cyberbullying.

• Don’t assume that your child is not involved in cyberbullying. Many children report that they have been with a friend who is the cyberbully. Your child may just be a “bystander,” but this behavior encourages the cyberbully to continue his or her behavior. Ask your child if he or she is playing the “bystander” role in bullying. Let your child know your expectations if this behavior is occurring.

• School districts need to establish and enforce Internet use policies for their schools. Many schools have their students and parents sign a document that includes the rules of Internet use by students and the consequence of misusing the Internet at school. Students should not be allowed to use the Internet at school without a staff member being present. Most schools prohibit cell phone use in the classrooms. School policies and rules for cell phone use need to be implemented and enforced by school staff members and school administrators.

• Victims of cyberbullying can save, print and use the written information or pictures as evidence of cyberbullying. Threats, violence, harassment or extortion should be reported to the proper authorities (police, school officials etc.).

Bully Prevention

Parents and school need to educate children on what bullying is, it’s impact and what can be done to prevent it.

• Develop a home and school plan that promotes a positive climate. Parents need to discourage inappropriate name calling, gestures and hurtful teasing. Schools needs to hold school forums or invite popular anti-bully speakers to “Stomp Out Bullying!”

• Encourage your children to report bullying to an adult. Let children know that the bully will not find out who is doing the reporting. NEVER PUT THE BULLY AND THE VICTIM TOGETHER UNLESS THE BULLYING IS OCCURING BY BOTH PARTIES.

• Supervise and place adults in places where bullies do their best work. Be aware that bullies are good at manipulating adults. They work in the locker bays, restrooms, crowded hallways, school buses and bus stops, neighborhood parks, youth centers, church youth activities, on the phone, computers and other places where children out number the adults by more than 10 to 1.

• Assign adults to keep track of bullies who have reoccurring issues. The idea here is not to punish the bully, but to promote a change of behavior. School counselors are often an effective strategy or means to help a bully change his or her behavior.

• Assist the victim by helping him or her to communicate feelings regarding being bullied. Victim may also need to learn how to avoid bullies, learn “come back” statements and change behaviors that may open them up to a bully’s tactics. Again, school counselors are great resources to help victims of bullying.

• Teach the “bystanders” how to not standby, but encourage the bully (who may be their friend) to stop what they are doing. Bystanders need to learn to speak up, tell the bully to “leave ‘em alone,” or help the victim to leave the area.

School Counselor and School Administrators’ Role

When bullying occurs, the school counselor or school administrator should:

• Initiate an immediate conversation with the individual who displayed the bullying behavior.
• Contact the parents and provide appropriate information regarding the situation.
• Continue to document all incidences of bully behavior.
• Inform the person who is bullying that his or her actions will be monitored.
• Let the person know why their behavior is considered bullying.
• Monitor grades, classroom behavior and other activities (sports etc) and frequently communicate with parents.
• If grades are low, place individual on an academic plan and extra school help.
• Have the individual meet regularly with school counselor and, if necessary, an outside counselor trained to modify behavior.
• Help the victim with school counseling and outside school counseling, if necessary. Monitor the victim’s behavior and academic performance.
• Help the person who is doing the bullying to become involved in positive school activities, clubs and volunteer work if/when appropriate.

The worst thing that adults can do to help a bully situation is DO NOTHING! Don’t do nothing. Call the teacher, school counselor or school administrator until you reach someone who states that they are willing to help.

Author's Bio: 

Scott Wardell holds a Masters Degree in School Counseling and a Specialist Degree in Secondary School Administration. He's the creator and author of ScottCounseling.com; a Website that offers parents hundreds of free parenting articles on elementary, middle and high school children.