WHAT IS BULLYING?
Bullying can take many forms, but it’s generally considered to be any behavior that is unwelcome, offensive, unsolicited, or objectionable. Bullying is characterized by:
- Repetition (occurs regularly)
- Duration (is enduring)
- Escalation (increasing aggression)
- Power disparity (the target lacks the power to successfully defend themselves)
- Attributed intent
WHAT ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BULLYING?
There are 6 main types of bullying:
- Relational Aggression (Psychological)
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIGNS YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED?
Some common signs that your child is being bullied are:
- Your child seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities (ie. sports teams) with peers
- Your child comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
- Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
- Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
- Finds or makes up excuses as to why they can’t go to school
- Takes a long or out-of-the-way route when walking to or from school
- Has lost interest in schoolwork or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
- Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
- Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
- Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
- Experiences a loss of appetite
- Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem
WHY DON’T SOME CHILDREN TELL THEIR PARENTS THEY’RE BEING BULLIED?
- They feel ashamed and embarrassed
- They worry about being viewed as a snitch or a tattletale
- They fear that the bully may retaliate
- They are afraid they will get into trouble by their family for not “standing up” or for “lacking confidence”
- They feel pressured to be “quiet” in order to belong or be accepted by their peers
- They feel like they deserve it
Note: Children with disabilities may be at a higher risk of being bullied.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD A PARENT ASK TO FIND OUT IF THEIR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED OR BEING A BULLY?
When talking with your child, don’t just ask if they’re being bullied.
A direct way to approach it is to say:
- “I’ve heard a lot about bullying on the radio and in the news. Is that going on at your school?”
- “I’m worried about you. Are there any kids who may be picking on you or bullying you?”
- “Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?”
- “Are there any kids at school who you believe, leave you out or exclude you on purpose?”
Some subtle questions you can ask:
- “Do you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?”
- “Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?”
- “Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?”
If your child is the bully, there are 3 questions you can ask:
- “Help me to understand…
- what happened today.”
- your relationship with ______.”
- why the school called me today.”
OR: There’s a lot about your story that I believe, but is there anything about the other side of the story (referencing the moral belief or other child) that has merit?” This question shows that you are open to listening and supporting your child. It also gives your child a chance to see the other person’s side.
“How are we going to move forward together to help you to change this behavior?”
Showing children what acceptable behavior looks like is one way to help them learn. (i.e. role-playing can be helpful.) It shows actions and words that a child can use moving forward. It can be helpful to invite the child to make amends. Be sure to outline clear, consistent consequences and follow through. Children need to be supported with words and action that show they are loved and that they can have a positive way of belonging.
WHAT SHOULD PARENTS DO IF THEIR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED?
- Contact your child’s teacher
- Make your child aware it’s unacceptable behavior.
- Teach your child to avoid bullies/stay connected with others
- Re-define tattle-telling with your child
- Be Quick to Respond
- Teach your child to respond with confidence
- Teach your child how to use unemotional language
- Teach your child how to use body language to reinforce his/her words
You can also refer to Dr. Dawn’s FB Live broadcast for explanations on the above recommendations: Help! My Child is Being Bullied!)
WHAT KINDS OF INTERACTION BETWEEN ADULTS CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS BULLYING?
Adult bullying is a serious problem and may require legal action if not managed appropriately.
There are several different types of adult bullies, and it helps to know how they operate:
- Narcissistic Adult Bully: This type of adult bully is self-centered and does not share empathy with others. He or she seems to feel good about him or herself, but in reality, has low self-esteem and belittles others.
- Impulsive Adult Bully: Adult bullies in this category are more spontaneous (do not plan their bullying tactics.) Even if consequences are likely, they have a challenging time restraining their behaviors. In some cases, this type of bullying may be unintentional, resulting in periods of stress, or when the bully is upset or concerned about something unconnected with their victim.
- Physical Bully: While adult bullying rarely turns to physical confrontation, there are, nonetheless, bullies that use physicality. In some cases, the adult bully may not actually physically harm the victim, but may use the threat of harm, or physical domination through their approach. Additionally, a physical bully may damage or steal a victim’s property, rather than physically confronting the victim.
- Verbal Adult Bully: Words can be quite damaging. Adult bullies who use this type of tactic may start rumors about the victim or use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate another person. This subtle type of bullying also has the advantage – to the bully – of being difficult to document. However, the emotional and psychological impacts of verbal bullying can be felt quite deeply and can result in reduced job performance and even depression.
- Secondary Adult Bully: This is someone who does not initiate the bullying but joins in so that he or she does not actually become a victim down the road. Secondary bullies may feel bad about what they are doing but are more concerned about protecting themselves.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON FORMS OF WORKPLACE BULLYING?
Research shows that many people experience workplace bullying. Approximately two out of every five people have been bullied at work. Almost half of those targeted at work suffer stress related health problems and can cause serious effects on an individual’s physical health, mental health, and relationships.
]Workplace bullying is abusive conduct that takes the form of verbal, psychological, physical, or online abuse that includes threats, humiliation, or intimidation; or interference that prevents the target from getting work done (sabotage). It can include blacklisting from future employment opportunities. The workplace bully may be a manager, coworker, vendor, or even a customer.
Common forms of workplace bullying can take the form of:
- Personal attacks that seem to have little to do with your job or the workplace environment.
- It can involve spreading rumors about someone, or hurtful gossip or innuendo about a coworker.
- It can include yelling, name-calling, mocking, insulting, or ridicule in face-to-face confrontations.
HOW SHOULD ADULTS DEAL WITH BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE?
- START by Standing Your Ground
- Document the behavior
- Talk to Your boss/supervisor
- If your supervisor is the Problem, talk to his/her boss
- If your boss is the Owner/CEO, then speak with a lawyer about possibly filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Individuals who have grounds to do this, must report the incidents before a lawsuit is filed. They then have only six months to act after notifying their employer of the problem or asking their boss to stop his/her abusive behavior.
There’s no specific law against bullying in the workplace unless it occurs due to discriminatory factors (“harassment”), so it’s important that you know your rights. Many bullying behaviors mirror the definition of a hostile work environment or workplace discrimination. If they’re directed at you by a superior, this might be considered harassment and if your superior’s actions are based on discriminatory factors, you might have grounds for legal action.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO THROUGH THE PROPER PROCEDURES WHEN BEING BULLIED IN THE WORKPLACE AND NOTHING IS RESOLVED, WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
To date, neither federal law nor the law of any state prohibits workplace bullying outright. Although several states have considered anti-bullying legislation, none has yet to pass such a law. That doesn’t necessarily mean bullying is legal in every situation, however.
In the absence of federal legislation prohibiting generic workplace bullying, several states are considering legislation that would provide severely bullied employees with a claim for damages if they can prove that they suffered mental or physical harm as a result of the bullying: Legislatures in 29 states have introduced workplace anti-bullying bills in recent years, according to the “Healthy Workplace Campaign.”
Bullying is illegal when it violates federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace. These laws protect employees from harassment based on protected characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.
If a workplace bully is targeting an employee based on a protected characteristic, that could qualify as illegal harassment. The employee would have a hostile work environment claim, if the unwelcome conduct is severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would find it to be offensive, hostile, or abusive.
IF A PERSON IS CYBER-BULLIED WHAT STEPS SHOULD THEY TAKE AND WHO SHOULD THEY REPORT IT TO?
Tips for dealing with cyberbullies:
- Don’t respond. Don’t retaliate. If you are a child/teenager, tell a trusted adult.
- Never delete any communications. Be sure to keep electronic copies and printouts in case things escalate. Keep records of ISP and law enforcement contacts. Do not alter the electronic communications.
- If the person who is harassing you continues this behavior, contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- Save all information that contains even a hint of a threat and contact law enforcement. Ask what steps are taken when cyberbullying is reported.
- Block the harasser after you have made copies of all communication.
- Research your state’s cyberbullying laws. One excellent online resource is the National Conference of State Legislatures website’s comparison of cyberbullying and cyber harassment laws, but you should also be able to find this on your state’s website or request this information by emailing one of your elected officials.
WHAT IS A CHILD TO DO IF THEIR PARENTS/FAMILY MEMBERS ARE BULLYING THEM INTO PLAYING SPORTS THEY HAVE NO INTEREST IN?
Dealing with a parent bully can be difficult. The first thing you should try is to talk to the parent. Try and work out differences. If that doesn’t work, it is a good idea to talk to some sort of authority at the school, or even with law enforcement. It is important that parent bullying be stopped, especially since it can be damaging to the long-term psyche of the child.
IS IT TRUE, THAT MOST PEOPLE WHO BULLY OTHERS HAVE TROUBLES AT HOME?
Yes, according to research studies, children and teens who are exposed to violence in the home are likely to engage in higher levels of physical bullying than youngsters who were not witnesses to such behavior. Bullies (no matter their age) are about four times more likely to have been hurt by someone in their families than those who are neither bullies nor victims of bullying.
Studies also show that kids who are involved in bullying are also involved in substance abuse and have a family history of violence. Programs that are comprehensive and involve families and communities working in partnership with schools are needed to stop bullying.
WHERE CAN LISTENERS FIND YOU? DO YOU HAVE A PODCAST OR UPCOMING SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS?
A: I offer 1:1 mental health consultations and can be found on my website: www.DrDawnPsychMD.com. I am also located on all social media platforms, using the tag @DrDawnPsychMD. (FB, IG, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube) I have two private practice locations in Houston, TX and offer virtual appointments to families who live in Texas and Illinois. You can locate more information on my practice website: www.adhdwellnesscenter.com
My Podcast show, “From ADHD to Amaze-Ability” is now available on Pandora! It is also accessible on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Subscribe today! “From ADHD to Amaze-Ability” Podcast Show
Register for the 2019 Parenting ADHD Summit June 17th-21st! On June 18th, I’ll be speaking on The ADHD Lifestyle Optimization Method: creating realistic and successful strategies for caregivers who parent children with ADHD. With this method, I help parents find solutions on everything from home routines to school essentials and friendships. 💜 IT’S FREE!!! Click here to get your ticket to this online experience today ▶️ https://bit.ly/2EE8U1o
I also have scheduled weekly FB LIVE sessions every Tuesday at 7 pm CST, where I encourage my viewers to discuss various mental health topics that impact our families and communities. Last week and this week, I featured the topics, “Bullying in Children” and “Bullying in the Workplace.” You can join the discussion every Tuesday evening here: www.LivewithDrDawn.com.
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