Is My Child A Bully?
Before we try to answer the question, is my child a bully, there has to be a frank discussion about behavior. Just like adults, sometimes kids can be jerks. Everyone has the potential to make a snide comment or a short outburst. There’s not a single lapse in self-control that immediately sounds the alarms bells. In fact, a person (adult or child) can slam a door, cuss, call names, throw a dish, or kick the dog (figuratively, of course) a few times and not have the real indicators of being a bully.
The difference between a jerk and a bully is timing, opportunity, targeting, and planning. Remember that.
Timing, Opportunity, Targeting, and Planning
Bullies are presumed to be children who have low self-esteem and are unpopular. Bullies can also be popular and confident and act out to impress friends or assert their dominance over their victims. Bullies will often have many friends who add to and support bullying behavior. There are many reasons why children become bullies and there are risk factors for bullying behavior that increase the chances a child will become a bully.
Bullying varies with males and females, however, the risk factors for bullying behavior are similar. Male bullies are often bigger, more prominent, and more aggressive than their victims are. Risk factors for bullying behavior in males include impulsive behavior, an angry disposition, general aggression, and poor ability to deal with issues, problems, or frustration. Having poor problem-solving skills is the main reason a large number of children turn to bullying. Male bullies often come to experience the need to be dominating and have a hard time empathizing with others.
These particular risk factors for bullying behavior do not guarantee that a male will become known as a bully but they do indicate an increased risk for bullying behavior. Giving young people with these traits constructive ways to manage their stress is a good way to prevent bullying.
Female bullies have comparable risk factors for this behavior although the way in which females bully each other is usually different. Females commonly use more social and psychological kinds of bullying than physical forms. Girls tend to use mean comments and additional emotionally charged abuse to bully their victims. Girls who frequently exclude others in activities are more often than not mean spirited, or repeatedly gossip has increased risk factors for bullying behavior. Impulsive disruptive behavior, an angry disposition, general aggression, and poor capability to cope with problems or frustration are also risk factors for bullying behavior in girls.
Facts About Bullying
These insights come directly from StopBullying.gov an official website from the U.S. Government.
How Common Is Bullying
About 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide.
Students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied said they thought those who bullied them:
- Had the ability to influence other students’ perceptions of them (56%).
- Had more social influence (50%).
- Were physically stronger or larger (40%).
- Had more money (31%).
Bullying in Schools
Nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months prior to the survey.
The following percentages of students ages 12-18 had experienced bullying in various places at school:
- Hallway or stairwell (43.4%)
- Classroom (42.1%)
- Cafeteria (26.8%)
- Outside on school grounds (21.9%)
- Online or text (15.3%)
- Bathroom or locker room (12.1%)
- Somewhere else in the school building (2.1%)
Approximately 46% of students ages 12-18 who were bullied during the school year notified an adult at school about the bullying.
Among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15 % were bullied online or by text.
An estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Students ages 12-18 experienced various types of bullying, including:
- Being the subject of rumors or lies (13.4%)
- Being made fun of, called names, or insulted (13.0%)
- Pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (5.3%)
- Leaving out/exclusion (5.2%)
- Threatened with harm (3.9%)
- Others tried to make them do things they did not want to do (1.9%)
- Property was destroyed on purpose (1.4%)
When discussing this topic with our Publisher, he told me something very disturbing. He said that every year before school starts, or after an extended vacation, SCDN has reported on the suicide or attempted suicide of a local student. The problem of bullying is actually costing lives in our beloved hometown. This bothered me, personally, and I was late on this article.
Please allow me the freedom for a commentary. Parents, please stay “in touch” with your kids. Teenagers are biologically programmed to keep you out of their personal lives. They just know when to show up and put on the “face” that makes you happy. They could literally be dying inside and you would have no idea. Being open to any conversation topic, without judgment, is not being a “helicopter mom“. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
A “helicopter parent” is one that hovers to impose their will on the child. The argument could be made it is also a type of bullying. Having an established trust with your child is hard work. The payoff is immense. It will also affect their parenting skills when it’s their turn to protect your grandchildren.
Is My Child A Bully? You now have the tools to recognize the warning signs. If you believe there is a problem, reach out to a trusted professional for the personalized assistance that best fits your situation. Doing nothing is not an option. It doesn’t mean you have a bad kid. It means they need help expressing anxiety, frustration, jealousy, and all the things that come with being a kid.