By definition, bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior, whether observed or perceived, and the repetition of behaviors or a high likelihood that the behaviors will continue. Bullying is broken down into two modes and four types. With direct bullying, a threat or perceived threat is done in the presence of the targeted child, whereas indirect bullying involves spreading rumors. The types include physical, verbal, relational, and property damage.
Bullying can occur anywhere. A child can be bullied online in chat rooms and open posts, via cellphone calls or text messaging, through email, and in person. Unlike in-person bullying, which can turn physical, cyberbullying consists of verbal aggression. In instances of hazing, assaulting, or harassing, bullying is a criminal act.
Sadly, 1 of every 4 school-aged children is bullied. While 22 percent of children report being bullied, another 64 percent remain quiet. Typically, bullies target poor; disabled; overweight; ethnic; and gay, bisexual, and transsexual children. However, bullying is also done in retaliation. For instance, an ex-girlfriend might target a boy’s new girlfriend. Regardless of the reason, bullying is never acceptable.
As the parent of a bullied child, there is a sense of fear and hopelessness compounded by ongoing stories of children as young as 10 taking their own lives. Sadly, the risk of suicide is much higher among students who bully, are bullied, or have witnessed bullying.
Pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior and keep communication open. Even though your child may say everything is fine, follow your gut instinct. Once you know your child has been or is still being bullied, gather as much information as possible about the people involved, locations, and situations. You also want to copy any messages on or offline. The more information you have, the better.
In addition, contact school officials to make them aware of the situation. Therapy for your child is also an option. With therapy, your child will gain insight and the necessary coping tools. If the bullying is severe or has occurred for a lengthy period, you probably need to take measures that are more drastic. In the event your child was physically harmed or threatened, contact your local law enforcement. Officers will conduct an investigation to determine if a crime was committed.
You should also talk to an attorney. If you have spoken to school officials to no avail, your attorney can write a letter to the district to put officials on alert and let them know that the situation is being taken seriously. Usually, this spurs definitive action, but if it nothing changes, you will need to take the next step.
Without resolution, you can sue the school district, as well as the parents of the bullying child. At this point, you need a reputable attorney who will fight for your child’s rights. Today, the courts have much stronger opinions about child bullying. With a reputable attorney on your side, there is a strong chance of winning your case.