The 411 on bullying for families


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Bullying is complicated and often difficult for both the kids and adults who care about them to deal with.

Bullying is difficult on kids. There is pressure to handle it themselves. Others kids may encourage taking revenge. If a child are hurt by a bully’s words, other kids and even adults can say they are thin-skinned or not tough enough. This causes shame. Even when bullying is reported, sometimes school personnel don’t follow through as well as they could and the bullying continues. This leaves the kid feeling adult can’t be trusted or are unable to help.

Because of these factors, kids are often afraid to tell an adult (even a parent) about what is going on.

There are some ways parents, guardians and school personnel can identify a potential bullying problem however.

These include:

• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school

• Suddenly loss of friends or avoidance of social situations

• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem

• Frequent headaches, stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness

• Changes in eating habits – too little or too much

• Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares

• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away, harming themselves, or talking about suicide • Unexplained injuries

• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, etc.

Once bullying has been identified, a kid can still feel shame on their part. Parents can help ease these feelings though.

When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bully-ing behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep kids safe.

Remember to:

• Stay calm. Reassure the kid he/she is okay.

• Don’t ignore the problem. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help.

• Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.

Get police help or medical attention immediately if:

• A weapon is involved.

• There are threats of serious physical injury.

• There are threats of hate-motivated violence, such as racism.

• There is serious bodily harm.

• There is sexual abuse.

• Anyone is accused of an illegal act, such as robbery or extortion — using force to get money, property, or services.

Keep a written record of bullying incidents. Ifit is happening on school grounds, contact the school counselor. Schools are required by law to keep records of bullying.

Give the school personnel time to deal with the issue. If they are unable to get it to stop, report what is happening to the school superintendent. If, within a couple weeks, the situation has not been stopped, then report the incident to the State Dept. of Education. They will investigate.

Other benefits for the child or teen can include counseling and self-defense classes. Counseling will help the child get their feelings out and reassure them they are doing okay. Often, counselors can help with ways to deal with the bully also. Self-defense will build confidence in the child’s ability to deal with the bully. A confident child or teen is less likely to be bullied.

* * * * *

Bullying is an event which happens more than once and can include:

◦ Teasing

◦ Name-calling

◦ Inappropriate sexual comments

◦ Taunting

◦ Threatening to cause harm

◦ Leaving someone out on purpose

◦ Telling other children not to be friends with someone

◦ Spreading rumors about someone

◦ Embarrassing someone in public

◦ Hitting/kicking/pinching

◦ Spitting

◦ Tripping/pushing

◦ Taking or breaking someone’s things

◦ Making mean or rude hand gestures


Kurt Kolka
Kurt Kolka
Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at

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