Bullying is a frightening experience for a child, leading to fear, anxiety, and a poor self-concept that not only impacts emotional health, but learning. Sometimes the consequences are grave, leading to depression or suicide. It’s not enough to tell a child to just “toughen up” and ignore the threat. Bullying must be treated as a serious, but preventable, behavior.
What Causes Bullying?
Mean behavior doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Bullies act out of their own unmet needs, whether those needs are for connection, power, safety and security, or even an escape from boredom. In short, bullies live by the idea that “misery loves company,” and they will go to great lengths to get that company for themselves. It seems distasteful to empathize with a bully–such behavior is reprehensible and shouldn’t be dismissed with excuses. However, it is only by understanding the root causes of bullying that schools and other organizations can prevent it.
How Should Adults Counteract Bullying?
It’s natural to get angry with a bully. After all, they cause a lot of pain in their victims. But doling out punishment after severe punishment is not enough. Bullies are likely to rebel against repeated punitive actions, continuing to lash out until their needs are met.
The best way to handle bullying is through prevention, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to satisfy their need for power, recognition, and success. Offering a variety of positive experiences in addition to academics, such as athletics, arts, special clubs or public service, gives would-be bullies a sense of purpose.
No matter how hard adults work to prevent bullying, they’ll most likely encounter the behavior from time to time. When bullying does happen, react calmly and firmly, enacting consequences while also identifying and remedying the root causes of the behavior.
How to Help Your Child
You can help your child by teaching them to cope with bullies safely. Practicing consistent strategies helps kids remain calm and secure while disarming those students who seek to victimize them.
What to do when you or a friend are bullied:
- Tell the kid doing the bullying to stop in a calm, clear voice.
- Laugh it off to catch the bully off guard.
- Walk away and find an adult to stop the bullying.
How to prevent bullying:
- Be careful about what you post online.
- Don’t share online passwords with anyone but a parent.
- Stay away from physical locations or social media channels that breed bullying.
- Talk to adults you trust.
- Explore additional resources for help, such as Stopbullying.gov's resources for kids and for teens.
Schools should be a safe place for everyone. ACCA's faculty and staff make it a point to do everything they can to create a safe and healthy learning environment for their students.