Recent surveys have suggested that more than half of school-age children know someone who has been bullied or has been a victim of bullying themselves. These results tie in with several medical studies that have concluded that school bullying is one of the leading causes of low self-esteem and self-worth among pre-teens and adolescents. At its worst, bullying may result in cases of depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illnesses. Early intervention is critical to reducing the lasting effects of bullying on children. And parents play a critical role in how their child responds to bullying and how it will affect him or her as he or she grows up.
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A typical reaction to bullying is projection. Bullied kids bully other kids who bully other kids. The cycle will never end until a child stops it where it is. It can only be done with the help of parents. Children should always be taught to respect others. Empathy should also be taught. Children who are better-rounded and who are taught the proper values are less likely to bully. If they are the ones who are being bullied, they can also use their empathy not to lash out at the bully. It must also be noted that bullies tend to continue their behavior if they see a big response (such as crying or being affected in a similar way). Children who ignore their bullies or who act like they don’t care usually have the bullying stop early on. If the bullying persists, parents should advise the child to seek help from their teachers or principal.
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Parents should keep an open line of communication with their children. They may do role playing scenarios with their child if necessary. It is also important that children feel that they can quickly go to their parents for help. Severe cases of bullying may even necessitate a transfer of school for victims.
Jonathan Lauter is a trusted child and adolescent psychiatrist. He has helped hundreds of pre-teens develop the skills they need to develop into happier and healthier adults. View this LinkedIn profile for more on Dr. Lauter’s credentials.