By: Robin Dusch, Clearfield County Career & Technology Center
It’s a fear of nearly every parent when their child gets on the bus and goes to school. Could their child be the target of a bully? And if so, how do you handle the situation?
How do you recognize a bully? They don’t look any different than the rest of us. They try to convince those around them that they are just like everyone else.
There are many ways to define bullying. It is repeated aggressive behavior, either physical (hitting, pushing, breaking someone’s personal items), verbal (name-calling, threats), social (spreading rumors, embarrassing them in front of others or excluding them from activities) or cyber bullying (through text messages, e-mail or social Web sites).
It is the intention of the bully to demean, belittle and humiliate someone for their own satisfaction. They can be nice one minute and vengeful the next. Some bullies are troubled individuals who feel better when making others feel bad, and others bully because they think it is “cool,” and they want to fit in with their peers.
In Time Magazine, it was reported that even though bullies often will have high self-esteem, they “tend to be victims of physical damage as well.” Most bullies live in families in which parents discipline them “inconsistently or through physical means.” A bully has no compassion for others and sometimes gets pleasure from making others feel bad. They don’t try to put themselves in another person’s position and they are not afraid of conflict.
Where does bullying occur? It can occur anywhere – in homes, schools (elementary, middle and high schools), and in the workplace, to name a few. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that nationwide, 20 percent of students in grades 9–12 have experienced bullying.
Who are targeted by bullies? It could happen to anyone, but generally those who are targeted are quiet and insecure, have little self-esteem and have few friends.
How can parents tell if their child is being bullied? Warning signs to look for are irritability, anxiety, sudden change in behavior, unexplained bruises or scratches and faking illness so they won’t have to face the bully at school or on the bus.
What should parents do if their child is being bullied? Talk to them and try to help them solve the problem. Teach them to practice self-confidence, be assertive, walk away from the bully and most importantly, talk to someone about what is happening, whether it is the child’s bus driver, teacher, school principal or guidance counselor.
If one witnesses bullying, get involved and take steps to stop it. Students who witness another being bullied should show concern and befriend the child being bullied.
Pennsylvania has a statewide anti-bullying law that requires school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies. Teachers and parents have to work together to protect children and let everyone know that bullying is unacceptable. Don’t downplay the situation – get involved!
The Women’s Health Task Force is a small group volunteering their time to educate women and families on important health issues. If you have an interest in health, work in a caring profession or just want to volunteer with other sincere women, consider attending our monthly planning meetings.
These meetings are held the first Thursday of each month, beginning at 12 p.m. The next meeting will be held Oct. 3 at the Penn State Extension in Clearfield County office. All interested persons are encouraged to attend.
The Women’s Health Task Force is also still accepting registrations for their Annual Fall Retreat at Camp Mountain Run in Penfield on Oct. 11. Information on the Women’s Health Task Force is available by calling Robin Kuleck at Penn State Extension at 814-765-7878, Ext. 2.