Bullying is a global issue that affects children every day. A 2018 study from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics found that nearly one-third of teens worldwide had recently experienced bullying. Even more troubling is that the same study found that, in countries where children reported the highest incidences of bullying, 65 percent of girls and 62 percent of boys reported bullying.
Preventing bullying is a community-wide responsibility. Parents can do their part by taking the following measures to address bullying.
• Address aggressive behavior. According to StopBullying.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aggressive behavior in young children is very common. Failure to address such behavior can lead to bullying, and children whose aggressive behavior goes unchecked may experience other problems with their peers. Whether their children have exhibited aggressive behaviors or not, parents can encourage cooperative behaviors like helping, sharing and problem-solving.
• Engage with your children. Various studies have shown that children are more likely to bully other kids if their parents spend little time with them or do not regularly supervise their activities. But studies also have found that students are less likely to bully other children if their parents warmly engage with them.
• Learn about bullying. Parents who learn about bullying are in better position to prevent it. Various myths prevail about bullying, and it's important that parents recognize these myths. No child is immune from bullying, as StopBullying.gov indicates that children from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are vulnerable to bullying, which also affects kids of all ages. In addition, any child can engage in bullying. Parents who recognize these facts are in better position to identify signs their child is being bullied or even bullying other students.
• Teach by example. Children reflect the attitudes and behaviors of their parents. If parents exhibit disrespectful behaviors toward one another or other people, children are more likely to follow suit. In addition, a 2001 study published in the Journal of Clinical Child Psychology found that abused children are more likely to bully others and be bullied by others than children who are not abused. Maintaining a home environment in which every individual, including children, is respected can reduce the likelihood that kids will bully or be bullied by others.
These are just a handful of strategies parents can employ to address bullying with their children. More information is available at www.StopBullying.gov.