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August 3, 2010 > Tips to reduce bullying

Tips to reduce bullying

Submitted By Angelica Valentine

At some point in their lives most people experience bullying. The most common time is during childhood and adolescence; however, the effects of bullying can turn into lifelong problems. Bullying can sometimes lead to suicide when victims feel that their situation is hopeless and no one is willing to help them. Recently, bullying has crossed over into arenas other than the usual face-to-face and behind-your-back. With technology always advancing, there are a myriad of outlets for bullying, which becomes incredibly dangerous with a tech-savvy generation of kids and teens.

While bullying has often seemed inevitable, there are some techniques that can be used in order to make kids and teens less susceptible to this problem. Authors Susan Eikov Green and Susan Sprague help the victims of bullies think critically about the effect that bullying has on their self-confidence and to give them the skills to keep it from reoccurring in the future. Here are their easy to use tips to address and reduce bullying:

What is bullying?
Bullying can take many forms. For example, teasing and gossiping are both hurtful actions, regardless of intent. Bullying can be physical as well, which is less often tolerated. Both forms are unacceptable, but it is sometimes hard for bullies to be punished for their actions when they only inflict emotional harm.

Cyber bullying has become a common phrase, meaning bullying online, and other forms of technology such as using Websites like Facebook and MySpace to degrade or threaten another kid or teen. Other examples of cyber bullying include mean text messages and instant messages. The sentiment is the same as regular bullying; however it is, in some cases, more indirect, even though it is equally as damaging.

Who does it affect and how should they react?
Anyone can be affected by bullying because it is so widespread. Targets tend to be individuals who are alone because they are easier to pick on. Their reaction to the situation largely decides the outcome. Someone being bullied can react in a number of ways, three of which are passively, aggressively, and assertively. Those who respond passively are easy targets because they do not seem to stand up for themselves. Those who respond aggressively can potentially make the bully angry and encourage them to continue or increase their bothersome behavior. Authors Green and Sprague advocate for an assertive response because it conveys the message that what the bully is doing is unacceptable, but does not provoke the bully.

What are some of the effects of bullying?
Each person who is bullied may feel differently about what they experienced, however a lower self-esteem is common. One alarming development is the increasing rate of children who are bullied and then commit suicide. As social networking gains popularity among youth, suicide due to cyber bullying increases as well. Cyber bullying is made easy because technology increases rapidly, is generally affordable, and is coveted by kids and teens.

How can it be stopped?
Putting an end to the cycle of bullying can be difficult because it requires a commitment to nonviolence and nonaggression. When those bullied fight back physically and verbally they are simply perpetuating the cycle out of which they were trying to break. Also, retaliation can gratify the bully or gossip because they get their desired outcome. One way to curtail bullying is to respond assertively, making it clear that mean words or actions will not be tolerated.

Cyber bullying in particular requires many different actions in order to end it because it is so varied. Kids must think more about what they say online because their actions have serious consequences. Once kids know what is appropriate to say online, they should also not be complacent when they notice someone else being bullied online.

Learning from victims:
The suicides of bullied children, like eleven-year-old Jaheem Herrera and thirteen-year-old Megan Meier, must be stopped. The desperation that these children feel could be erased by concerned parents, friends, and educators. Bullying is not a subject that our society can take lightly, the lives of the next generation depend on us all taking it seriously. The recent upsurge in bullying and related suicides means that we have an obligation to counter it with our attention and become educated about the problem.

Susan Eikov Green is a writer and producer of over 150 award-winning educational programs for youth that cover such topics as bullying, character education, and drug prevention. She is the author of "Don't Pick On Me: Help for Kids to Stand Up to and Deal with Bullies."

Susan Sprague is a freelance writer and mother of two teenagers. She is the author of "Coping with Cliques: A Workbook to Help Girls Deal with Gossip, Put-Downs, Bullying, and Other Mean Behavior."

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