Bullying No es un Juego (Bullying is not a game), states popular Mexican social media campaign against bullying started by actress and producer Yolanda Andrade and picked up by many famous people in the entertainment world in Spanish. It was and is a good attempt to bring attention to this growing problem. Many have heard of bullying, many have been victims, while others witnessed it and of course there are those who have done it. At the end of the day bullying affects everyone. Bullying does not affect only high school students; there are plenty of cases when kindergarteners and even preschoolers were involved in bullying incidents.
Warning signs of bullying are pretty easy to spot. According to stopbullying.gov the following are the signs that a child is being bullied: injuries that cannot be explained, student’s personal property damaged or lost, frequent aches or faking sickness, changes in eating habits, nightmares or not being able to sleep well, decline in grades, loss of interest in school and going to school, avoiding social situations, loss of friends, feeling helpless, low self esteem, self destructive behaviors.
According to the same website the warning signs of that a child who might be a bully are: involvement in physical or verbal fights, have friends that bully others, increasing aggressive behavior, frequently sent to detention or principal’s office, possession of unexplained money and new things, blame others for their problems, do not accept responsibility for their actions, competitive and preoccupied about their reputation and popularity.
Many people who never faced this problem in life wonder why children do not tell anyone when they are bullied. One of the main reasons why is that those children feel very helpless, they believe that they will be able to resolve the problem themselves. Also, children that are bullied feel humiliated and they do not want others to know about how they are treated or what is being said about them. Many of them are afraid that the bully would find out that victim told on him and he will step up with his cruelty. In addition, because of bullying many children feel socially isolated and they are scared to be rejected by their peers.
Unfortunately, hiding it will not solve anything. On the other hand, things can escalate rapidly. That is why it is very important for parents to know about what’s going on. It was said by numerous psychologists that a lot of times parents are part of problem, but they also can be a solution. More often than not, children take social cues from their parents. Sadly, many parents get lost in busy lives full of activities and they forget to simply talk to their children. Communication is very important. If parents suspect that the child is being bullied, the parents have to sit down and talk seriously with the child. It is very important to ask the child to explain about what had happened. Parents need to listen and try to understand the situation. Once parents determined that the bullying incident had occurred the first step would be to talk to the child’s teacher. Parents can also contact the school counselor and school principal. If for some reason parents feel that the issue is not being adequately addressed by the school officials then they can contact the school superintendent and State Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
Bullying is not a game and surely, it is not just something “kids will grow out of.” Bullying is a serious issue that involves a lot of people. Bullying is not something that will go away on its own. Also, many times violent response is not the best one. What is more important is open communication. Parents need to communicate better with their children and schools. Parents also, need to teach their children to be more than just bystanders. But above all if we want to have truly safe environments for learning in schools then parents, children and school officials need to teach children that bullying is not a game.
All Schools have policies against bullying. See the student handbook given by your child’s school to learn more about their policies.
For more detailed information about bullying in English and Spanish visit www.stopbullying.gov
For information about filing complaint to U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division visit http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/#three
For information about U.S. Department of Education, Office if Civil Rights and how to file complaint visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html