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Is Your Child a Bully, or a Target?

Bully or victim? You need to take a stand as a parent if your child is either one. How do you know? We’ll tell you how.

It’s of importance to discuss this topic since it’s an issue many of our children are facing alone. The first thing to discuss in the difference between teasing and bullying. Bullying results in foul play and often violence.

There’s physical, verbal and psychological bullying. Of course children being physical with others, like hitting or taking belongings, is a huge red flag but parents sometimes exclude the other forms. Threatening other children, excluding them and spreading rumors or bad names around are more hurtful than we may realize as adults. The way this affects a child can be serious.

How to tell if your child is a bully or victim should be seen in their behavior and mood. Children who are bullied are typically sensitive, have a poor self-image, low self-esteem, are socially withdrawn and often wont want to go to school.

It’s disheartening that bullying is often a learned behavior from witnessing verbal and physical violence at home. Bullies see aggression happening without reprimand and tend to view it positively because this is the behavior their role models are exhibiting.

Bullies are usually physically strong and use their strength to intimidate other children by hitting and pushing. Bullies are insensitive to their peers’ feelings and act before thinking of the consequences.

Parents often make excuses for their child’s behavior, no-one wants to hear their child is a bully, however, the seriousness needs to be addressed at home and at school. If it isn’t addressed at home too bullies will continue to strike, even after being punished because of their disregard for rules.

Recently NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’ discussed childhood bullying. You can listen to the story at the link provided. It’s very moving and worthwhile. Writers reflect on their experiences being bullied as children and what they’ve taken away from it in the new novel, Dear Bully. This should be recommended reading for all school-aged children.

Bullying by use of social media is also a huge issue, even leading to suicide in some cases. Having the Web as an outlet for bullies lets them say things they normally wouldn’t because of the anonymity of it. Cyber-bullying, sexual harassment and more will be discussed in an upcoming blog.

Make sure you know your child!

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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