Think of the word "bully" and two sterotypes often spring to mind: Big, burly, meat-headed adolescent boy or pretty, popular, cruel "mean girl."
But anyone can be a bully -- and anyone, even seemingly secure or well-liked girls and boys, can be the victim.
"We're really big on labeling kids," says Peggy Moss, author of anti-bullying children's book Say Something
and the mother of 12- and 9-year-old girls. "And it's really important to acknowledge that your child may have been a target yesterday, will be a bystander another day and is going to be a bully one day and we have all played all of those roles. I think we do kids a real disservice by putting them in boxes."
Arlene Richards, a Los Angeles teacher and administrator with more than 40 years of education experience, points out that no school can be completely bully-free. If you have a child with special needs, he or she may be more vulnerable to being bullied because of his or her possible physical, emotional, mental, or social issues, she points out. She suggests role-playing to help your child practice what to do to ignore or confront a bully, and to be sure that the child understands that bullying can mean different things, from name calling or put downs to actual physical assault.
Richards created Bing Note
, a line of products for parents and teachers to use to address, understand, and help prevent bullying. She offers these tips for how to spot if your child is being bulled, and how to tell if your child is the one exhibiting bullying behavior.
Is your child being bullied?
When you notice uncharacteristic changes in your child’s demeanor, begin asking questions and start observing his/her behavior before and after school.
1.) When your child comes home from school is he showing signs of anxiety or depression? Does he exhibit unexplained mood swings, crying spells, excessive anger, social withdrawal, or refusal to discuss his day with you?
2.) Are his grades dropping? Is he begging to drop out of after school programs?
3.) Do you notice mysterious cuts and bruises? Does he talk about suicide?
4.) Does he complain about going to school or invent reasons to stay home?
5.) Does he continually lose his possessions? Is he continually asking for more lunch money? This may be a sign that someone is taking his lunch money and other possessions.
6.) Ask him about his school activities and friendships. Explain bullying and provide examples of bullying. Ask him if bullying happens at his school.
7.) Does he have self-esteem techniques to help him become bully proof? www.bingnote.com has wonderful self-esteem building products.