How do we define bullying and cyberbullying?
Bullying is intentional, aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Usually, it is repeated over time. Traditional bullying includes physical and verbal aggression, gestures, intentional social exclusion, and intimidation. Cyberbullying takes these same behaviors into the digital realm, where groups or individuals target a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.
What can parents do?
Ultimately, bullying/cyberbullying is an issue between students: that’s where the behavior needs to change. But adults must play an active role in creating environments where kids feel safe and respected. Adults can—and should—fight bullying through prevention, awareness, and response.
- Teach kids the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior with their peers – both in person and online.
- Talk to them about healthy and respectful conflict resolution.
- Set a good example: live by your own instructions both at home and in public.
- Encourage kids to reach out to students who seem isolated; these students are at a higher risk to become bullying victims, but also to become bullies themselves.
- If your child seems to have problems relating to his or her peers, find opportunities to encourage and develop his or her social circle so they feel less alone at school
- Know the signs of bullying/cyberbullying and be aware of these behaviors in your kids or their friends, both as victims and as perpetrators.
- Educate your kids about what bullying is and what to do when they see it.
- Teach them that bully victims are not to blame for the abuse, and that reporting bullying is not “tattling”—it’s doing the right thing.
- Support students who are brave enough to speak up. Second-guessing whether they “provoked” the bully is not helpful and can further victimize the child.
- Bring the bullying to the attention of school personnel or, if necessary, law enforcement (not the bully’s parent—this can make things worse).
- Persist until the bullying stops.