Bullies intend to harm or make their victims afraid through repeated aggression. The aggression may be physical, verbal, or social and relational (e.g., cyberbullying). The goal of the bully is to be perceived as being more powerful than the victim (whether by social status, physical stature, or other factors). This behavior happens in familiar social groups. Sometimes people think of bullying as just “a normal part of growing up” and that children should and can manage it on their own. This is not true. The effects of bullying on victims can be loneliness and feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, missed school, and decreased academic performance. There are some unique challenges for kids of military families that should be considered when attempting to prevent bullying.
Unique Challenges for Military Kids:
1.Frequent moving could potentially mean that they are always trying to settle themselves into a new social system. Aggression and victimization can be part of how children organize themselves into social groups.
2.For parents the lack of knowledge of and relationship with the school can make intervening if their child is a victim or responding if their child is a bully difficult and confusing.
3.Additional family stress related to separation, work-stress, and other issues
•may put kids more at-risk for bullying involvement due to general problems with adjustment (more prone to victimization).
•may make parents feel unable to cope with the added stress of complaints from the school or their child’s stress if victimized.
Tips for Parents if your child is being bullied (is a victim):
1.Focus on being supportive and listening to your child even if you are angry at the bully or the school – your child needs you the most right now!
2.Praise your child for sharing with you and remind them that they are not alone and they are not the only child that has been bullied.
3.Take it seriously when your child says that telling may make the bullying worse. Get as much information as you can and decide which of the following options makes sense:
•Talking to the teacher and guidance counselor at the school
•Talking to the bully’s parents (perhaps if you know them)
•Sometimes it makes sense to have all parties talk together – the teacher, the bully’s parents, and you.
4.If talking to the teacher or bully’s parents are not helping your child, consider contacting a principle or superintendent to get the problem addressed.
5.Remember that friends and older siblings can help! Maybe you can arrange for your child to be with others to decrease the chances that they will be bullied.
6.Remember that most bullying happens where there is the least supervision by adults – internet, play yard, lunch room, hallways – discuss with your child’s teacher or school how to cope in those situations without your child being labeled a “tattle tale.”
7.Consider professional counseling for your child if they are having problems with dealing with their feelings around bullying.
8.Find out about your school districts and local community’s policies and rules around bullying so that you can advocate for your child.
9.Don’t rule out that law enforcement may have to be involved – keep copies of harassing emails, texts, social media posts, keep a log of assaults or other encounters so you don’t forget any details to report.
For more information on programs related to bullying prevention please see the Clearinghouse Continuum of Programs .
Some other online resources include:
clearinghouse website (2012)
Greene, M. B. (2000). Bullying and harassment in schools. In R. S. Moser & C. E. Franz (Eds.) Shocking violence: Youth perpetrators and victims – A multidisciplinary perspective, 72-101. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Griffin, R. S., & Gross, A. M. (2004). Childhood bullying: Current empirical findings and future directions for research. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9(4), 379-400.
Hawker, D. S. J., & Boutlon, M. J. (2000). Twenty years’ research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: A meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41(4), 441-455.
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