Put simply, bullying is when another child uses intimidation and threats to control your child. But it can take many different forms. The type of bullying your child may have to deal with can depend on his or her age and sex. If your child is young, a bully may be nothing more than a schoolyard thug pressuring his classmates for lunch money. As your child grows into a teen, bullying attacks can be more subtle and sinister -- such as devastating rumors and hurtful pranks.
There are also bullying differences depending on whether the bully is a boy or a girl, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Boy bullies tend to physically threaten and intimidate their victims, regardless of gender. Girl bullies, on the other hand, usually go the "Mean Girls" route and attack only those within their own gender, using words, not fists, as their weapon of choice.
While most forms of bullying are fairly universal, the technological advances of the 21st century have given bullies new tools to torment their prey. Welcome to cyberbullying. By using social networking sites and tools such as Facebook and text messaging, bullies have the ability to spread rumors not just around the school but around the world. And it allows them to target your child not just during school hours but anywhere, anytime. Protecting your child from this type of bullying can be tough. Cyberbullying lends itself to bully anonymity. And, it's virtually impossible to control the spread of information online. However, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' "Stop Bullying Now" campaign offers some steps you can take to help defend your child against electronic bullying:
- Monitor your child's online activities.
- Encourage him or her not to respond to bullying online.
- Save -- don't erase -- threats. You may be able to use them as evidence.
- If the bullying is occurring through your school's Internet system, contact the school.
Knowing that your child is being bullied (and how it's happening) won't make you feel better, but it will help figure out how to help your child. Keep reading for lots more information on dealing with bullies.