How to help a child/teenager who is being bullied. How to deal with a bully

In blogs #16, #17 and #18, we discussed the different types of bullying behaviour, who is a bully, the circle of bullying and signs a child/teenager is being bullied. Today, we will explain how to deal with a bully, and how to help the child/teenager who is being bullied.

One of the most harmful aspects of bullying is that the child or teenager feels helpless. The best way to help support kids who are being bullied, is for parents, adults, etc. to stand up for and support the victims and state that bullying will not be tolerated. This sends a message that the victim is not alone and ‘not stuck’ in a helpless situation.

Some Bullying Facts:

  • 50 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls who bully and 36 percent of boys and 15 percent of girls who have been bullied, carry weapons!
  • 25 percent of teachers see nothing wrong with bullying, consequently, they only intervene in 4 percent of bullying incidents
  • 15 percent of all school absenteeism is due to bullying
  • Two-thirds of students state schools respond poorly to bullying
  • 85 percent of girls are sexually harassed at school
  • Anticipated cost of bullying associated with violence is $7.9 billion/year (USA)
  • Every 7 seconds a student is bullied
  • 280,000 students are physically attacked in schools each month
  • 160,000 students miss school daily for fear of being bullied
  • 43 percent of students fear bullying in the school bathrooms

The impact of bullying on a child/teenager is extremely harmful. Every week there is another story posted on social media about a child or teenager who ended his/her life because of relentless bullying. Death caused by bullying even has its own term, it is called bullycide!

We know that kids who are bullied go into hypervigilant mode (flight, fight, fright response) and are at an increased risk of experiencing headaches, stomach problems, muscle and joint pain and insomnia. Can you imagine what it must be like for a child/teenager trying to deal with the bully, the threats, taunts, intimidation and abuse, the fear and panic he/she must feel every single day. Now, think how the child/teenager must feel if no one helps, if he/she has no one to turn to. Is it little wonder so many of them develop mental disorders such as depression, social anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, why so many begin to self harm, skip school, turn to drugs and/or alcohol to numb the pain and hurt and finally decide that death by suicide is the only way to end the excruciating pain, hopelessness and helplessness.

How to help a child/teenager who is being bullied:

  • Listen to the child/teenager. Don’t ignore, belittle or laugh. Your child needs help now!
  • Report bullying incident to school and review school’s ‘No Bullying’ policy
  • Do not react and approach the bully’s parents and/or the bully/bullies
  • Talk with child/teenager, be kind, understanding and supportive, show love, explain what happened is not his/her fault and encourage him/her to stay true to oneself
  • Help him/her to take positive action and offer guidance where appropriate
  • Help child/teenager to build self-esteem, self worth and confidence.
  • Encourage child/teenager to be assertive and stick up for self. See tips below
  • Help child/teenager find tasks at which he/she can succeed
  • Follow up with doctor, counsellor if signs of a possible mental disorder or diagnosed mental disorder is becoming worse
  • Encourage child/teenager to practice self-affirmation and positive self talk. This will take practice
  • Consider joining a martial arts class: fosters assertion, control, respect, strength and calmness

Please see Blog #17 for some great suggestions for kids to stand in their own power and say ‘no to bullying’
Please see Blog #7 Bullying and Mental Illness

Tips on how to deal with a bully:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Do not react, remain calm
  • Speak in a clear, deliberate, direct tone
  • Define the bullying behaviour e.g. name calling and state that it needs to stop
  • Do not engage in name calling, threats or shouting matches
  • Try to avoid places where you know the bully will be
  • Tell others: parents or trusted adult, teacher, counsellor
  • Write down days, times, locations where bullying occurred, who was present, what did the bully do
  • Practice ‘fogging,’ this minimizes the impact of what the bully says and takes the ‘wind out of his/her sails’ e.g. whatever, so I’ve heard, so you thinkCheck out Stop Bullying websites for suggestions and peer support: Be Strong and Born This Way Foundation

In my next Blog #20
I will discuss the effects of bullying on children and teenagers with disabilities and special health needs and LGBTQ children/teenagers

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