When Your Child is Being Bullied
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry indicates that almost one half of all school-aged child have or will become a victim of bullying. 10 percent of victims stated they were bullied on a regular basis.
Children with ADHD, according to one study, were ten times more likely to be bullied than their peers. While bullying, including cyber-bullying, seems more prevalent today than in the past, it is an even bigger problem for children with ADHD. Maybe because our children often lack social skills and have low self-esteem, they are easier targets.
Unfortunately, too often bullies go unchallenged. One study reported that less than five percent of bullying incidents had adult intervention and less than 12 percent had peer intervention. [Pepler and Craig, 1997] Bullying can include many different forms of intimidation. According to Bullying.org, some of the most common are:
- Physical violence and threats
- Intimidation to cause fear
- Name-calling, put-downs, verbal attacks
- Stealing possessions or money
- Excluding children from group activities
Bullying is characterized by "repeated and intentional behaviors that are meant to harm or intimidate another child." It is most common in elementary school, but middle school and high school students can also be bullied.
Children who are bullied may feel they deserve it. They might believe they are "ugly" or "stupid" or whatever other names the bully calls them. It is important to reassure a child that, if they are being bullied, it is not their fault, they have done nothing to deserve this treatment and that the bully is at fault for acting mean.
Bullies act like they do for many reasons. Bullying someone is a show of power. It makes the person feel superior. But it could be caused for exactly the opposite reason. A bully could have low-self esteem or have been bullied in the past. They may be worried about being picked on and feel that it is better to be a bully than to be bullied. There is normally some situation that is causing the bully pain. Bullying someone is their way of dealing with that pain.
Bullies are often cowards. Bullies choose their victims based on who they can beat. Bullies don't choose people that are bigger or stronger than them, instead they focus on the weaker children.
Children who are bullied frequently have emotional consequences. They may:
- Be depressed, lonely or anxious
- Have low self-esteem
- Have more absences from school or not want to go to school
- Have stomach aches or headaches
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers some tips for parents:
- Ask your child to describe what is happening, what types of things the bully has been doing, where the bullying has been taking place and who is involved.
- Let your child know he or she should always talk with a teacher or other adult if her or she is being bullied. Explain the difference between tattling and going to an adult for help.
- Talk with your child's teacher or principal. Provide information you received from your child, including specific details, such as who was involved, where and when the incidents took place and any additional information you know.
- Let the school contact other parents. It is not advisable for parents to call or visit other parents. The school administration should be responsible for speaking with the bully's parents or guardians.
- Help develop your child's self-confidence by finding activities that match his or her interests. Find classes or clubs outside of school, such as art, music, dance or martial arts classes. These types of activities can make a child feel better about himself or herself.
- Encourage your child to be friendly and make friends with other children at school. Bullies often pick on children that are alone, without support. Making friends and being in a group can discourage bullies. Your child's teacher may be able to help you in finding children that have similar interests and may be good choices for friends. Set up times when your child can invite other children home to play.
- Your child should feel safe and secure at home. Be sure to provide a safe haven, letting your child know he or she has your love and support.
Bullies should not be ignored. Your child needs to know that he or she does not need to be treated in this way and should not need to put up with it. Keep up the communication to make sure ther problem with the bully does not come back.
"Frequently Asked Questions about Bullying", Date Unknown, Author Unknown, Bullying.org
"What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied", Date Unknown, Author Unknown, Stop Bullying Now, U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources