Bullying basics – Part 1

Roles and forms of bulling.

Bullying is a problem that can happen at daycare, school and at home. A child’s first exposure to bullying may occur within the home. When parents abuse one another they are modeling disrespect. Children will mirror these behaviors they are observing at home. Parents who ignore a siblings taunting and abuse are allowing bullying to take place in the home. Inconsistent discipline can cause a child to become confused and angry which can lead to behavior problems.

There are different roles one may play in the act of bullying. There is the bully, target(s) and the witnesses. The bully may cause intentional physical, verbal, emotional and or sexual distress to a peer. This behavior will often become more intense over time. A bully may strike out at others when he is angry or frustrated. A bully may also have been a target of bullying and become a bully to prevent future incidents of bullying. The target may be passive by nature and easy prey to those who would hurt him. A target may stand out because of his talents, skills, intelligence or appearance. These characteristics may cause some resentment and jealousy from peers. Witnesses are those who observe bullying taking place. This child may withdraw or try to stop the bullying, comfort the target or join in on the bullying. Often a child will become withdrawn and quiet, out of fear of becoming a future target. Silence and withdrawal is a sign of intimidation and can eventually hurt the witness by damaging his self-esteem.

Bullying comes in different forms; physical, verbal, emotional and sexual. Physical bullying is any form of physical contact that causes pain, embarrassment or other emotional distress. This can involve fighting and any cuts, bruises or scrapes can be red flags and a parent should talk to the child about what happened. Verbal bullying is any type of name calling, threatening, cursing and ridiculing directed toward the target and/or any family members. Emotional bullying are words, gestures or acts like ignoring, excluding, or playing hurtful practical jokes that undermine the self-esteem of the targeted child. Sexual bullying is any form of unwanted contact, including the use of sexual language to intimidate the victim.

All forms of bullying should be taken seriously and talked about no matter your child’s role may or may not be. For more information visit Michigan State University Extension’s bullying page.

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