Street bullying occurs when a child or group of children intentionally harm another using verbal threats, intimidation, and/or physical violence such as hitting, biting or kicking. Street bullying often begins in early childhood: think of the youngster who stakes claim to the sandbox and all its contents using aggressive behavior to keep others out.
As the bully grows up he/she continues to claim a stake in preschool, on the middle school playground and eventually in high school. Each day an estimated 160,000 students in the United States refuse to go to school because they fear the physical and verbal aggression of their peers. 30% of these students are 17 years and younger who are victims of street bullying, cyber-bullying or repeated harm through other electronic devices. It’s been reported that 6 out of 10 American youth witness bullying at least once a day.
Although cyber-bullying is virtual, it can have the same crippling effects on the victim as street bullying: low self esteem, depression, failing grades, suicide and destructive acts of violence. Bullies see the anonymity of online conversation as the perfect cyber turf to use verbal weapons when their identity is masked and protected by the screen. However cyber-bullying is not a technology problem but rather a social and educational problem involving youth and the improper use of online technology.
The following are helpful resources if you know or suspect someone who is being bullied:
- 911: If you or a child is at immediate risk of harm because of bullying, call the police.
- Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK (8255): If a child/teenager is feeling suicidal because of bullying, contact the suicide prevention hotline.
- School Administration: Anti-bullying programs have been instituted throughout many school systems. Talk to the school administration (principal or superintendent).
- Counselor or Health professional: If the individual who is being bullied is having emotional problems, contact a counselor or other health professional.
- The U.S. Department of Education: If a child is bullied because of their race, ethnicity or disability, contact the U.S Department of Education Office on Civil Rights – http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
How do you and your children deal with cyberbullying?