Perhaps you’ve seen it or been the victim. A high school senior pushing a freshman, books dropping to the floor. A group of co-workers snickering and whispering as you walk by. A threat to give up test answers or get beaten up. Bullying is an unfortunate activity that can happen anywhere to anyone.
Last week, one of our Las Cruces Moms posted that her daughter was being cyber bullied on Facebook. Many more members came forward to tell their own stories of being bullied in school and work, offering support for each other and their children. It was this kind of community strength that prompted the creation of Las Cruces Moms in July 2012. New Mexico public schools just started again and another group of our children may feel the pain, loneliness, and fear that accompanies bullying. Read more to find out what we can do as parents and what schools can do to stop the bullying.
What is Bullying?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the verb bully as 1: to treat abusively or 2: to affect by means of force or coercion.
As a parent, bullying means that your child comes home in tears, becomes withdrawn for no obvious reason, start to get anxious going anywhere in public – especially school, or becomes easily agitated, upset, and ashamed.
Bullying can be verbal with comments about literally anything: weight, height, glasses, hair, what’s in the lunchbox, clothes, race. It can also be physical: punching, hitting, kicking, scratching, pulling.
With the advancement of technology since we went to school, cyberbullying is disturbingly the easiest and most direct way of bullying. One person leaves a nasty remark on someone else’s Facebook page and more people comment - it snowballs into a long thread of remarks made to hurt one person publicly.
All kids have to go through bullying to be ready for the real world. Heck, I got bullied when I was kid and I turned out fine. Why is it any different now?
No one should have to feel as though they aren’t worthy of living.
Let’s take a look at a few statistics from bullyingstatistics.org:
- Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
- A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
- 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
- According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying
- The Cyberbullying Research center defines cyberbulling as ”when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.” Nowadays, people can write almost anything about any one on the internet at any time – and do it anonymously. When you don’t know who’s attacking you, it’s harder to fight back.
- A recent study with approximately 2,000 middle-school students from one of the largest school districts in the United States found that students who experienced cyberbullying, both as a victim and an offender, had significantly lower self-esteem than those who had little or no experience with cyberbullying.
My child is being bullied/is a bully. What do I do?
Change starts at home. Here are a few links you might want to use to get more information on how to help your child (or yourself) to move forward after an incident of bullying.
New Mexico Public Education Department’s Anti-Bullying Page. On this page, you can find out what New Mexico is doing to stop bullying, including our State rules on bullying and prevention.
Communication is key. If you don’t know how to talk with your kids about bullying, you should check out this entire website full of how to talk to your child about bullying and keep lines of communication open.
Talk to someone now. Don’t wait. The NMSU College of Education has counseling services, they know how to help. Contact and find more information by clicking here.
One common complaint with our LCMoms members was that the schools didn’t do what they felt was enough. Check out this page specifically to see who to talk to when you need more assistance.
Bullying has a lot of misconceptions around it. Compare your own experiences with these common myths.
The US Department of Education recently released a video regarding bullying. Watch it here.
What if your child is the bully? Click on the PACER Center’s guidelines on how to stop a bully before he or she makes another victim.
One brave Las Cruces mom summed up what it is to be the parent of a child who is bullied. Read her words below. If you have a child that is bullied, please be brave for them and stand up for their right to have a safe, supportive environment. If you have a child who might be a bully, don’t stand aside or ignore it. We all want our children to grow up happy and healthy – and we can do that as a community coming together against bullying.
Recently and currently my daughter has been bullied on FB so severely that she has become withdrawn, I am afraid for her safety, afraid to let her go to the mall with her friends because she might get beat up. The people who are doing this, some of their parents are good people-nurses, teachers, daycare workers but what they have in common is that they refuse to believe that their children could bully.
I don’t want my daughter to become just another number a victim, a news story. I want to protect her from all the bad the world has in it but I can’t and that’s why I need all of your help.
So what I’m asking is please listen when your kids say they are being bullied and even harder keep an open ear when you are told that your child may be the bully.
No one deserves to live in fear, no one deserves to want to take their own life because they feel so hated.
Thank you for listening.