WMUR's Mike Cherry sat down with Rick Alleva during the weekly Positive Parenting segment to talk about bullying. During their three minute discussion, they covered what is bullying, its impact and what parents can do.
What is bullying, and how is it different from kids just being mean?
The term bullying is used describe an incident or incidents that that physically or emotionally harm another child. It is characterized by an 'imbalance of power' which distinguishes bullying from kids just being mean. This 'imbalance' may be actual or perceived personal characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs.
What about cyberbullying, is that a similar or different issue?
The internet and various online communications, email, text and many social media apps (FaceBook, SnapChat, etc.) have greatly expanded the bullying experience and its impact. Anyone can now bully with anonymity 24 hours a day, and power may be held by online savvy youth over children who are not so.
What is the impact of bullying on the lives of children?
Bullying has a tremendous impact on children--emotionally, socially and academically. Children who are bullied may have emotional scars for years, may have difficulty making and keeping positive relations with peers and adults, and may have great challenges to perform and learn in school and elsewhere. Children who bully, along with those who are bullied, have an increased risk for mental health challenges, including depression. And children who both bully and are bullied are at greatest risk for problems. So we all need to be concerned about children who bully as much as those who are victimized.
How much of a problem is bullying among school age children today?
Bullying takes place in lots of places, including schools, parks, neighborhoods and online. About 22% of school age children report being bullied in elementary, middle and high school, with a high of more than 30% being reported by 6th graders. Bullying has remained pretty constant since NH revised its pupil safety and violence prevention statute in 2010, which defines bullying and outlines procedures to be followed, including notification of parents, when a report of bullying is received. However, reports of bullying to school personnel has dropped by about 50% since 2010, the reasons for which are unclear and concerning. Reporting bullying is often the first step in getting a child help.
What can parents do to help address bullying and to protect their children?
First and foremost, parents and others who care for children, can have a talk about bullying. This should take place with all children every year and should include what a child can do if they experience or witness bullying in school, online or anywhere. Children should also be encouraged to show empathy for other children who are bullied. This is one of the best antidotes to bullying. If a child reports being bullied, their parent or other caring adult should really listen to them and report the incident or incidents to the child's school or other youth programs who may be involved, and depending on the nature of the incident (e.g., physical harm, threats, weapons), possibly to the police. If signs of emotional or other mental health challenges related to bullying appear, additional professional help should be sought. Parents can also get involved with their schools, sports and other youth organizations to support policies and practices to prevent bulling and to better deal with bullying when it does occur.
What is a good resource for parents who want to learn more about bullying and what they can do?
The single best online resource is StopBullying.Gov, an official website of the U.S. Government. It has lots of information about how parents can get involved in preventing bullying, and how to find help for children who are bullied as well as those who bully and children who witness such tragic events..which pretty much means all children today.