What is bullying?

According to American Psychological Association, bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

Facts about bullying

28% of students in middle school and high school were bullied at school during the 2008/2009 school year.

  • 19% made fun of (called names or insulted)
  • 16% subject of rumors
  • 9% pushed, shoved, tripped, spit on
  • 6% threatened with harm
  • 6% cyberbullied
  • 5% excluded from activities
  • 4% forced to do things they didn't want to do
  • 3% destroyed property

Why do children bully?

Bullying is a complex issue with multiple risk factors. The studies indicates that typical themes in children's and young peoples representations of bullying causes are:

  • The powerless victim
  • The struggle for status, power, and friendship
  • The disturbed bully
  • Having fun and avoiding boredom
  • Peer pressure

Impact of your children being bullied

Studies indicate children who are being bullied experience physical symptoms, psychosomatic symptoms, and psychosocial difficulties such as:

  • Headache (1.3 to 3.4 times more likely than non-victimized children)
  • Stomachache (1.3 to 3.3 times more likely)
  • Difficulty sleeping (1.3 to 5.2 times more likely)
  • Wetting bed (1.2 to 2.4 times more likely)
  • Depression (1.6 to 6.8 times more likely)
  • Suicidal
  • Loneliness
  • Disliking/avoiding school (one-fifth to one-quarter)
  • Lower grades
  • Violent cases of revenge

Impact of your children engaged in bullying

Children who bully others are more likely to:

  • Exhibit criminal behaviors
  • Dislike school
  • Suicidal
  • Drink alcohol and smoke

How to handle it

Parents of children being bullied

Look out for the signs of your children being bullied:

  • Ripped clothing
  • Hesitation about going to school
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Crying
  • General depression and anxiety

Do not tell your children to solve the problems themselves!

Teach your children how to handle being bullied

  • Practice scenario and come up with strategies with your child how to ignore/avoid/coping with bullies

Parents of children engaged in bullying

Teach your children about bullying. It is possible that your children does not know what they are doing is hurtful.

"Practice what you preach". Make sure you show positive examples for your children in your relationships with other people and with them because they learn behavior through their parents.

Pay attention to your children' issue(s). For example, children with low self-esteem tend to bully to feel better about themselves. Not only children with low self-esteem but children who seem popular and well-liked can have mean tendencies. Mean behavior should be addressed by parents and disciplined.


Anti-Bullying ad

Did you know....

The word "bully" used to mean the total opposite of what it means now? 500 years ago, it meant friend, family member, or sweetheart. The root of the word comes from the Dutch boel, meaning lover or brother....

Having trouble?

If your child or student is having trouble at school or with friends as a result of bullying, a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, can help your child develop resilience and confidence.

Work Cited

  • Aalsma, Matthew C., and Brown, James R. What Is Bullying? Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 43, Issue 2, August 2008: 101-102.

  • Blais, Julie, Craig, Wendy, and Pepler, Debra. Responding to Bullying: What Works? School Psychology International October 2007 28: 465-477.

  • Stopbullying.gov (picture credits)