October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. A time for both adults and children alike to be reminded of the preventative measures, signs and potential results of bullying, or being bullied.
Education on the topic is the key to curing the bullying epidemic alive and thriving here and around the world. In order to eradicate the behavior we must learn its true definition; it’s overall cause and effect; and how to stop it in its tracks.
What is bullying?
Many of us have a preconceived notion about what a bully may look like, but reality suggests that a Bully come forms in various shapes and sizes. The definition of bullying is described as repeated, unwanted and aggressive behavior directed at a person or group of people with the intention of evoking fear or pain. Such attacks can be violent; verbal or written threats and abuse; discrimination; the spreading of rumors; and forced exclusion. Any of these transgressions, no matter how minor, are likely to cause stress, fear or pain for anyone on the receiving end.
What impact does bullying have on the parties involved?
The impact of bullying can be far reaching, beyond just the target of the abuse. The negative results of bullying are often felt by the bully himself, the bullied, and witnesses to such behavior. Children who are bullied may experience a wide variety of physical, mental, and academic issues during the abuse and long after the bullying has ceased. As a result of the repeated cruelty, targets of bullying often struggle with depression, anxiety, health complications, poor grades, and low self-esteem.
Additionally, children who bully their peers may face issues well into adulthood. It is not uncommon for a bully to abuse alcohol and drugs, participate in criminal behaviors, struggle with school, and continue to engage in abusive behaviors into their adult years. Even children who simply observe bullying behavior can find themselves experiencing feelings and issues they wouldn’t otherwise struggle with.
Bystanders may feel guilt, a sense of powerlessness, depression, and the unfortunately temptation to participate.
How can we avoid the negative impact bullying has on children?
FACT: Much of the harm caused by bullying can be avoided.
A large part of bullying-prevention involves teaching children to take action into their own hands. By providing children with the tools to fight against the negative consequences of bullying, and encourage them to take control of their experiences, confidence will flourish.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- Offer positive reinforcement. Praising children for their efforts goes beyond just athletic or academic achievements. It is important to acknowledge a child’s good behavior when he or she demonstrates selflessness, courage, cooperation, and respect in order to build self-esteem and promote kindness.
- Help them find their voice. Being assertive and knowing when to speak up are two tools that will help to fight against bullying. A child needs to learn how to effectively express his or her feelings in order to communicate any issues that may arise on and off the playground.
- Be a role model. Spending time with kids and showing them how to behave properly is one of the best ways to boost their self-esteem. Children learn to mimic their parental figures at a very young age. They will learn what is said and done at home and apply it to their daily interactions with others.
- Get them involved in activities that boost self-esteem. A feeling of confidence will carry from an activity to other aspects of life. Martial Arts is an activity that not only benefits children on a physical level, but promotes good social skills, confidence, respect, accountability and inevitable self-defense skills.