What Will It Take to End the Epidemic of Bullying and Hate?

New book explains six methods to combat cruelty, could parents be the answer?

Posted Feb 19, 2018

Free Spirit
Source: Free Spirit

There's rarely a day that goes by that we don't hear about a bullying or cyberbullying incident. We don't need surveys or statistics to tell us that children are dying from bullycide and parents are struggling for ways to help prevent this peer cruelty.

One survey of 5548 kids said the top reason kids stop bullying is “If the child knew their parents disapproved and how their mom and dad would think about them if they bullied someone.” Dr. Michele Borba, an educational psychologist tells parents to lay down the rules, “In this house you are always to be kind to others.” “You will not treat another person cruelly.”    

Dr. Borba is sharing her proven and practical ways to help combat cruelty in her latest book, End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy (Free Spirit, February 2018). 

Understanding Five Types of Bullying

1. Verbal bullying. Perpetrators of this type of bullying use words or statements to intentionally cause a target pain or distress. Name-calling, making fun of the person, and delivering put-downs, racial slurs, hurtful comments, taunts, threatening statements, or insulting are all forms of verbal bullying. The intent is to use verbal means to belittle, demean, and hurt another person. Many adults say that verbal abuse has the least serious consequences on kids, but new research shows otherwise. Students with special needs are the most frequently targeted with verbal taunts for their differences in appearance or abilities. If taunts are discriminatory or aimed at insulting a child’s race or culture, the bullying is sometimes called prejudicial bullying.

2. Physical bullying. This form is using physical power like pushing, socking, slamming, punching, hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, or spitting to gain control over targets and cause harm. Physical bullying is the easiest form of bullying to identify, yet it is actually the least common type on school campuses.

3. Relational aggression (sometimes called emotional or social bullying). This is an insidious form of bullying that often goes unnoticed because it is more covert, subtle, or manipulative in nature, and the methods are cold and calculated. The intent is to emotionally harm another child by attacking their relationships with other people. Shunning, excluding, or ostracizing a child from his or her friends; spreading rumors or mean gossip; threatening to stop talking to a friend (giving “the silent treatment”); creating situations to publicly humiliate a child; and trying to ruin someone’s reputation are ways that young people engage in relational aggression to try to increase their own social standing. 

4. Electronic bullying (also called cyberbullying). Using any electronic device (such as a cell phone, camera, tablet, or computer) and/or the Internet to say or send mean or embarrassing statements about a person constitutes cyberbullying. While many people believe that electronic bullying is the most common type of bullying today, studies find the opposite: fewer students are bullied electronically than in person. Two large national surveys found that a higher percentage of students reporting in-person bullying than cyberbullying. 

5. Sexual bullying. Also called sexual harassment, this form of bullying consists of intentionally saying or doing repeated harmful, humiliating, lewd, or disrespectful statements or actions that are sexual in nature. It could include name-calling (“slut” “whore”), vulgar gestures, uninvited touches, bra-snapping, or crude comments about someone’s appearance, sexual development, or sexual activity. Many states include statutes ruling that sexual harassment is against the law. 

The 6R's of Bullying Prevention

1. Rules. Establish an anti-bullying policy and expectations for respect.

2. Recognize. Teach stakeholders how to recognize bullying.

3. Report. Create procedures to report bullying.

4. Respond. Teach student witnesses to respond to bullying.

5. Refuse. Help targets refuse provocation and cope with victimization.

6. Replace. Help students replace aggression with acceptable skills.

In Dr. Borba's new book, she outlines each of these techniques in detail to help give educators, parents and caregivers valuable step-by-step information that is relatable and powerful. 

Never doubt the emotional impact bullying can have on a child or teenager. In the wake of the latest mass school shooting in Parkland Florida, according to the Sun Sentinel, the family that the suspect lived with believed that he may have been a victim of bullying.  

We frequently talk about the rise of incivility in our country, not only with young people, but adults alike, isn't it time to be proactive in curbing this hate? 

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