Third in a four part series.
Click to read Part One
Your child comes home seeming a bit out of sorts; this has been going on all week. He sits on the couch and doesn’t make eye contact when you ask how was his day. His body language is telling of another trying day at school but as with most elementary school age children, doesn’t willingly open up about why he is so glum.
After the 20 questions, a sporadic line of questioning and casual ‘pretending-to-be-casual-chit-chat’ inquisition, little Timmy mentions that two kids at school who he considered his best buds, now won’t play with or talk to him because another child made up a story about him last week that now, every kid in his class believes.
It continues…your child has been isolated at school; purposely not included during after school play, is given scrap paper notes saying “you stink and everyone agrees,” and by the end of the second week, the whole 4th grade was lobbing against him. The wildfire of indirect bullying took hold and to a child, seems like it would never end.
This behavior is a form of bullying – indirect bullying. There are many situations that constitute indirect bullying. Some examples of this include:
- Excluding someone from an activity, conversation or other group setting
- Mocking someone for something about their appearance or personality
- Gossiping about another person in a malicious manner
These are just some of the examples of this form of bullying. There are many others. One thing to keep in mind with this is that this does not just happen with children. It can happen with teens and even adults. Many offices have instances of indirect bullying that happen on a daily basis just as you will find this in schools across the country every day. [Related read: Part 2 – Physical Bullying]
Effects of Bullying
- Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment (Center for Disease Control, 2012).
- Students who bully others are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence later in adolescence and adulthood (Center for Disease Control, 2012).
- Compared to students who only bully, or who are only victims, students who do both suffer the most serious consequences and are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems (Center for Disease Control, 2012).
- Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches (Gini and Pozzoli, 2013) (Source:Pacer.org)
How to Stop Bully Behavior
By teaching your child about indirect bullying at a young age they will learn how to spot it as well as how to stop bully behavior and avoid it. Most schools are starting to teach about this and are actively working to eliminate bullying from the classroom environment altogether. However, this is not something that will just go away over night.
The best thing you can do is be an advocate for your child. Make sure you know what’s going on with them at school everyday. Even if you simply talk while eating dinner or driving home from school, this is an essential part of keeping your child safe from bullying. Everyday teens commit suicide because of bullying at school from both direct and indirect bullying. This is why you should know what is going on with your child. There are great resources available both online and at your local library and health departments. A comprehensive offering of publications, handouts, posters and tips can be found https://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/publications/ .
Have you or someone you know been the target of bully behavior? Send us a note; we’d love to hear from you and how you handled the situation.
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