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November 2, 2022
October 16, 2023

Facts About Bullying: What to Know and How To Help

Sadly, almost all of us are familiar with bullying in one form or another, either because we’ve been the victim of bullying, witness to bullying, or because we’ve spent time as a bully ourselves. If you are a parent, you may have worries and fears about bullying and want to know how to protect your child from its harmful effects. Or perhaps your child is currently involved in a bullying situation at school and you are looking for answers about how to help.

Sadly, almost all of us are familiar with bullying in one form or another, either because we’ve been the victim of bullying, witness to bullying, or because we’ve spent time as a bully ourselves. If you are a parent, you may have worries and fears about bullying and want to know how to protect your child from its harmful effects. Or perhaps your child is currently involved in a bullying situation at school and you are looking for answers about how to help.

We’ve got you covered. Here, we’ll go over some basic facts about bullying, discuss types of bullying, the effects of bullying, and how parents can help their kids manage bullying, both in school and on the internet.

How Is Bullying Defined?

It’s understandable that you may be confused about what bullying is exactly, or what constitutes or “counts” as bullying. 

Here’s what to know. According to the CDC, bullying is any “unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths, who are not siblings or current dating partners, that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance, and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”

The CDC characterizes bullying as a form of violence, whether verbal or otherwise. Additionally, the CDC says that bullying is regarded as an adverse childhood experience (ACE) and has the ability to have harmful physical, social, psychological, and academic effects on children.

What Are the Facts About Bullying and How to Stop It?

Unfortunately, bullying is widespread among young people, particularly in school and online. Let’s take a look at some bullying statistics, along with facts about bullying in school and facts about cyberbullying. 

How common is bullying?

  • The majority of bullying of youths happens at school or online (cyberbullying). Here, per the CDC, are statistics about how common bullying is:One in every five high school students has been bullied at school.
  • One and every six high school students has been bullied online.
  • 40% of LBGTQ high school students have been the victim of bullying.
  • More female high school students (30%) are bullying victims than male high school students (19%).
  • Bullying isn’t just a problem in high school—it’s most frequently reported in middle school (28%), and it also occurs frequently in elementary school (9%).
  • Almost 14% of public schools report instances of bullying requiring disciplining either daily or weekly.
  • Cyberbullying reports are most frequent in middle school (33%), but also happen frequently in high school (30%), and elementary school (5%). 

According to Stopbullying.Gov, the majority of bullying of kids aged 12-18 happen inside school buildings (hallway, classroom, cafeteria), 21% of instances of bullying happen outside school grounds, and 15% happen online or via text message.

What are the different types of bullying?

Depending on the situation and circumstances, bullying can take many different forms. In a nutshell, any aggressive or cruel behavior from one person toward another, where a power imbalance exists, may be a type of bullying.

Here are some of forms bullying can take (again from the CDC):

  • Physical aggression, including striking someone with the hand, punching, or kicking
  • Tripping someone on purpose
  • Teasing, taunting, belittling 
  • Name calling and using hate speech
  • Damaging another person’s property
  • Cyberbullying (online), which occurs in social media, text, or another online forum 

How Do You Stop Bullying?

Determining how exactly to stop bullying can be complex. It often involves a community approach, including among children’s families, the children themselves, school administrators, teachers, and other staff members.

According to StopBullying.Gov, preventing bullying means:

  • Creating a culture within a school that is kind and respectful
  • Making sure the whole school community has a zero tolerance stance against bullying
  • Ensuring that people who witness bullying (bystanders) stand up to bullies, and intervene when someone in the school is being bullied

It’s important to understand that children who perpetuate bullying are often the victims of bullying themselves—either at home, at school, or in their communities. That’s why providing support for both victims and perpetrators of bullying is important. 

As the CDC notes, this might look like:

  • Making sure that families have support and that parents are educated about positive parenting and disciplining
  • Ensuring that childcare and education is available to at-risk youth from preschool age and beyond
  • Providing mentoring and afterschool programs so at-risk youth have access to safe, supportive places
  • Creating community-based programs that address issues of inequities and violence among youth

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Bullying on Victims?

Bullying can have profound effects on kids’ mental and physical health—both now and in the future—which affects not just the victims of bullying but children who bully as well. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), children who are both bullies and victims of bullying experience the most significant risk of mental health and behavioral issues.

When bullying gets physical, it can lead to serious injuries, but the emotional impacts shouldn’t be dismissed. Bullying can be traumatizing, cause emotional disturbances, and can make going to school extremely challenging. Children who experience bullying at at increased risk of mental health issues, including self-esteem concerns, depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD. 

What Are the Warning Signs of Bullying?

Children who are being bullied may not always feel comfortable telling a teacher or parent about what’s going on. That’s why it’s vital that you be able to recognize the signs that a child is being bullied.

Some of these signs may include:

  • Changes in a child’s behavior or emotional state
  • Injuries that can’t be explained
  • Lost or damaged personal items, such as books, phones, tablets, or clothing
  • Complaints of anxiety-related physical discomforts like headaches and stomachaches
  • Difficulties in school
  • School refusal
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Abrupt changes in social life, including changes in friendships and social circles
  • Signs of depression and anxiety
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideation

If your child is showing signs of self-destructive tendencies or is talking about harming themselves, you must take this seriously. Please reach out to their healthcare provider or to a licensed therapist right away or visit an emergency healthcare facility. 

How Can Parents Help Children Deal with Bullying?

There is nothing more heartbreaking than knowing your child is being bullied. Although bullying can’t always be prevented, there are things you can do as a parent to help your child manage a bullying situation and to offer support. 

As StopBullying.Gov notes, studies have found that talking to kids about bullying, showering them with love, being a model for respect and compassion, and getting a child the appropriate help can prevent bullying.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Because children can be afraid or ashamed to share that they’ve been bullied, it’s essential to create a space of openness and non-judgement.
  • Make sure your child knows that it’s not their fault that they’ve been bullied.
  • Assure your child that they are not alone, and bullying is unfortunately something many kids experience.
  • If your child shares an incident of bullying with you, thank them for opening up.
  • It can be helpful to also discuss what your child should do when they are being bullied; this may include:
  1. Not responding with physical violence
  2. Using clear, firm statements telling the perpetrator that what they are doing is wrong
  3. Walking away and disengaging
  • Make sure your child knows where to get help in their school building for bullying; this may involve speaking to their teacher, a school psychologist, or an administrator.
  • Discuss what to do if your child experiences cyberbullying; this may include: 
  1. Not responding to bullying comments or engagements
  2. Saving online communications
  3. Sharing online information about cyberbullying with adults 

Besides helping and supporting your child, you should also intervene when necessary. All instances of bullying should be reported to your child’s school, and you should follow up if measures aren’t taken to prevent further bullying.

Additionally, if your child is experiencing emotional or mental health impacts related to bullying, it’s imperative that they get help. You can discuss options with your child’s school counselor or pediatrician. Support from a child therapist can be a wonderful way to offer your child needed support as they heal from bullying.

If you need further support or assistance in helping a child who is being bullied, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to start with a free consultation from a licensed Handspring Health therapist today. Handspring Health can offer you and your child the tools and support to deal with and overcome bullying in all its forms.

Works Cited 

American Psychological Association (APA). How parents, teachers, and kids can take action to prevent bullying

Bullying: It’s Not OK. Pediatric Patient Education 2021; 10.1542/peo_document339

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fast Fact: Preventing Bullying

National Institutes of Health (NIH). How does bullying affect health and well-being?

Nemours KidsHealth. Helping Kids Deal With Bullies

StopBullying.Gov. Facts About Bullying

StopBullying.Gov. Warning Signs for Bullying

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