Bullies have always been the bane of a child’s existence. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, coming from all walks of life. Their mission is simple: to wreak havoc wherever they go. Unfortunately, their role in the community is so common that bullies show up in cartoons and children’s shows, often in a comedic role, as they antagonize the ‘nerd’ or the ‘pushover’. Bullying isn’t funny. It isn’t cute. In fact, bullying is downright dangerous, especially in the military community where the stakes are already high for children.
There are certain aspects of the military life that make bullying an especially prominent issue. The most obvious are the transient nature of military families and the constant reality of repeated deployments. Military children are expected to move from school to school and often find themselves establishing their identities repeatedly while one or both parents are off fighting in multiple wars. Meanwhile, the same children are viewed as the ‘new kid on the block’ and that opens doors for all sorts of behavior, including bullying. Instead of focusing on academics and finding new friends, military children are often left battling other kids who prey on the newer, isolated students. In a country where approximately 2.7 million students are bullied each year, it is imperative that parents know the signs of bullying and how to address the issue.
Identifying the clues that your child may be bullied is one of the most important steps in combating bullying. Very few children will openly admit that they are being bullied, so encouraging conversations about relationships in the school setting is crucial. Finding out about your child’s friends while talking about the school day can often indicate your child’s attitude toward school. Some of the more prominent behaviors displayed by children being bullied include: losing interest in activities, decreased performance at school, speaking negatively or in fear of another child, decreased self-esteem, physical changes such as an increase in bruises, cuts, and scrapes, and depression.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, take the time to explain that bullying is not okay and needs to be addressed. There are some amazing resources out there that can help prepare a child for bullying scenarios so that they are better prepared to combat their bullies. The Trevor Romain Foundation, listed in the resources below, has wonderful and interesting DVDs relating to all sorts of social topics, including the prevention of and coping with bullying. Parents Place and Parents Against Bullying, both also listed below, provide comprehensive information to assist parents in the fight against bullying. While learning more about available programs, document instances of bullying and encourage your child to talk to an adult about the bullying occurring at school.
Communication with the school is important. Empower your child to take the first steps and seek out a trusted adult at the school. That adult can be a teacher, an aide, the school’s counselor, or administrator. Making the initial contact is the most important part of resolving the bullying situation. Also, as a parent, be sure to familiarize yourself with, not only the school’s policy on bullying, but that of the school district, as well. Knowing the written policy will help you navigate your next steps. Don’t allow the school to gloss over the bullying. Demand a plan of action that protects your child, as well as cultivates his ability to return to the classroom and the learning environment. Be sure to keep the communication lines open between your child, the school, and yourself. Without open communication, it is very difficult to monitor a bullying situation.
Above anything else, be sure to let your child know that you support him. By giving your child the tools to combat bullying and acting as his protector, you are enabling him to understand that he does not have to face the effects of bullying alone. In this world, that may be the difference between your child’s future success and failure.
- Over half, about 56 percent, of all students have witnesses a bullying crime take place while at school.
- A reported 15 percent of all students who don’t show up for school report it to being out of fear of being bullied while at school.
- There are about 71 percent of students that report bullying as an on-going problem.
- Along that same vein, about one out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying.
- One out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
- Some of the top years for bullying include 4th through 8th graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.
- Other recent bullying statistics reveal that 54 percent of students reported that witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.
- Among students of all ages, homicide perpetrators were found to be twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied previously by their peers.
- There are about 282,000 students that are reportedly attacked in high schools throughout the nation each month.
Bullying and the Military Child,