The long, lazy days of summer have come to an end and given way to the frenzy of back to school and all the activities that go along with it. While many teens look forward to going back to school and seeing their friends, it can also be a harrowing and stressful time for other teens who have been victims of bullying.
Bullying can be physically and emotionally damaging for teenagers and leave scars that take a long while to heal. Teens are especially susceptible to developing low self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts or actions when they are being bullied at school.
To prepare for the upcoming school year, here are some answers to common questions about bullying, from experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine:
What is bullying?
Bullying is any form of physical, emotional, or psychological aggression that is imposed upon an individual repetitively. Bullying also involves demonstrating power over another person or exploiting imbalances in strength or power.
How prevalent is bullying?
Unfortunately, bullying has become more and more common each year, and usually begins to surface in schools in November or December each year. According to stopbullying.gov, 28 percent of students between grades six and twelve have experienced bullying. 15 percent have been cyberbullied. Additionally, over 70 percent of students admit to witnessing bullies at school.
With such strong statistics, it is hard to argue that bullying is not a major problem that teens today must face as they try to grow, develop, and learn.
What types of teens typically become victims of bullies?
Bullying can happen to any teenager. However, bullies more commonly select victims who they see as less powerful than they are, or as different from themselves. Teens demonstrating signs and symptoms of depression are often being bullied, but are afraid or ashamed to discuss it openly.
What does bullying really look like?
There are several ways that teens can be bullied, including:
Physical bullying occurs when one teen uses physical actions to harm another teen, such as hitting, kicking, biting, fighting, etc.
Verbal bullying happens when one teen seeks to diminish another through cruel words, name-calling, or mocking.
Reactive bullying happens when a previously bullied teen takes on the behaviors of a bully, and begins mistreating others.
Relational bullying takes place when one teen harms another emotionally by excluding them from peer groups or activities.
Cyber bullying occurs when teens are regularly and purposely bullied through online interactions such as gaming, social media, and text messages. While conventional bullying has been present in teen’s lives for a very long time, cyber bullying is somewhat new. Due to the expansive power of the internet, cyber bullies can expound upon their damaging behavior by making it publicly visible online for many to see and share.
How does bullying make teens feel?
Bullied teens will quickly lose self-esteem and feel worthless and demoralized. Many teens are fearful about opening up to others in their life about being bullied, and will keep it to themselves rather than seek help. Sometimes a bullied teen will even reverse their own behavior and become a bully themselves to try and restore the power balance in their life.
What can parents and other trusted adults do to help bullied teens?
One of the most important things parents can do to help a bullied teen is to stay involved and in tune with their teen’s life, activities, and friends. If a parent notices any changes in interests, friend groups, or behavior, then they should begin an open, supportive dialogue with their teen to get to the root of the issue.
What advice should parents give to their teenagers about bullying?
Parents of teen bullying victims can use these tactics and ideas to help their teen cope and recover from bullies:
- Remain calm and supportive
- Assure your teen they are not to blame for being bullied
- Teach your teen how to stand up for themselves in healthy, nonviolent ways
- Give your teen coping and safety ideas to use when bullying occurs, such as walking away, seeking the help of a trusted adult, or finding a safe place
- Teach your teen about the importance of friendship
How should a teen’s school react to bullying?
School should be a safe environment for learning, fun, and friendships. For these reasons, many schools are creating strict anti-bullying rules and enforcing a safe, healthy learning environment by implementing enforceable codes of ethics all students must abide by if they want to remain in attendance at the school.
Does going back to school mean going back to bullying? (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/healthy-children/bullying-at-school)