Children and Bullying: Teasing, Taunting and that Haunting Name-Calling

After the newest “copycat” video from Clarkville, Indiana showing middle school girls beating up a classmate, people are wondering just how prevalent bullying is these days. Parents are concerned. Is my child videotaping a fight and putting it up on YouTube? Could they do such a thing?

Many people underestimate how often bullying occurs. They turn a blind eye. I can’t tell you how many school principals have told me, “It doesn’t really happen here.”

Here are the facts:

  • 10% to 15% of children admit to being bullied on a regular basis.
  • It’s estimated that almost 30% of young people in the U.S. (over 5.7 million) are involved in bullying as “the bully,” “the victim,” or both.
  • Children who bully have trouble with other relationships
  • On average, one in ten students is bullied at least once a week.
  • One in three students has experienced bullying as a bully or victim or bullying during the average school term.
  • While there are three kinds of bullying, physical (hitting, kicking, taking away property, destroying property); verbal (name-calling, insulting); and emotional (shunning, spreading gossip), most bullying is verbal rather than physical
  • Bullying at age 10 sets many children on the path to delinquency
  • Boys bully both girls and boys. Girls tend to bully girls in particular.
  • Bullying begins in elementary school, is most prevalent in middle school, and drops dramatically (but does not disappear) in high school.
  • Bullies and bystanders tend to blame the victim for the treatment received.
  • Bullying takes place most often at school.
  • At school, bullying takes place most frequently in places where adult supervision is compromised such as on the playground, in the hallways, or in the classroom before lessons begin.
  • While boys are more often involved in bullying than are girls, girls tend to bully in more indirect ways by inflicting emotional pain through manipulating friendships, ostracizing classmates, and spreading malicious rumors.
  • Victims are most often taunted about their physical appearance although they often do not look very different than their classmates.
  • Boys who are consistently victimized tend to be more passive or weaker than the bully.
  • In middle school, girls who mature early are often teased and bullied by their classmates.
  • Whether boys or girls, bullies tend to have more family problems than other children, a history of emotional abuse, and inconsistent boundaries, rules, or discipline at home.
  • Spending an average of 28 hours a week in front of the television set (more than any other activity except for sleep), children are constantly bombarded by images and ideas. When these images and ideas misrepresent entire groups and races, children can grow up believing these damaging stereotypes. Children are impressionable and may use this information as fuel for bullying.
  • Children who bully others may begin to develop prejudicial feelings, so that what starts out as something childish becomes entrenched in their thoughts and behavior. The name-callers, begin to internalize attitudes when they tease.

We can’t just turn a blind eye and say “kids will be kids.” Somebody’s child is getting hurt. It might be yours.

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10 Responses

  1. I think its great that there are videos put up of kids being bullied and such…. it will force all those deniers out there that claim bullying doesn’t happen to shut up and re think what they are saying…

    Of course bullying occurs, always has and it will for a long time in many situations… With the age of youtube this just shows what is already seen by many in the schoolyard that occurs more often than is believed. In my highschool, they were actually ‘banning video phones” due to all the fights that were being taped. Of course they only did this because it made the school look bad….

    ….In relation to the video….. did that chief say that the victim will be charged also?What the?

    Anyhow, keep up the great work 🙂

  2. […] Children and Bullying: Teasing, Taunting and that Haunting Name-Calling […]

  3. […] writing about the prevalence of bullying in our schools yesterday and alluding to the violence in video games on my parenting blog, I wanted […]

  4. Bullying was mostly prevalent (for me) in elementary school. 5th grade was a terrible year…

  5. You and I have something in common then, lifeswhatyoumakeit– fifth grade was my worst year too. Use it to fuel you and make you better– I did and you can too.

    http://gradstudy.tufts.edu/1176904812269/GradStudy-Com_Article-GradStudy_Com_Article_Details_1182348072414.html

    Dr. Robyn

  6. Dr. Robyn, you visited AKKA and my daughters came in for your article. One of my daughters (I have 9 yo twin girls) is being bullied terribly. I have spoken to the teacher, principle, adjustment counselor. I have even had Tim and Kim speak with her this week because she brings it home to hurt her sister and disrespect me. How do I get the school to adopt a No Bully policy? Next year will be their last year in elementary school but these children will be moving on to middle school with my girls. It started with just a few children and now the whole class is mean to her. She says she has “no friends” and she doesn’t anymore. She has gone from a confident child to a child that thinks she is ugly, fat and deserves to be treated badly.

    Gail

  7. Hello Gail,

    There is nothing more painful than watching your child suffer. I’m so sorry to hear what’s going on with your daughter. Unfortunately, I do know what she is going through as I was bullied in a very similar way when I was in 5th grade. Of course, I don’t have all the answers but I can offer an opinion.

    It’s surprising to hear that the school does not have a “no bullying” policy. Many teachers don’t know how to deal with this very touchy issue. It would be difficult to make the school do something– although they should. My advise to you would be to work with your daughter directly. Role play with her how to respond, teach her to stand with her head held high, help her to “buddy up” with at least one other person in the classroom who can help her. You can teach her to use humor or her smarts to diffuse the situation– this takes practice.

    You want to build up her assets– connections with others, confidence, her opportunity to care for others, an opportunity to contribute to the community– these things can help her to feel good inside. I know that none of this is easy but it is important.

    Outside of school be sure to get her exposed to other children outside of her school district. Martial arts is a great place to make friends– have her make a play date with someone from there a few times per month. Get her involved with other things she likes to do as well– working with animals, volunteering, drama, arts, etc. Socialization outside of school is important so that she can see that people like her and that she can be a good friend to others.

    I wonder what the teacher and counselor are doing to try to help your daughter. I hope that the children are being reminded about appropriate, kind behavior. Many teachers don’t see the bullying or don’t see the subtleties of bullying– this can be frustrating for everyone. Keep advocating for your child and perhaps talk to the PTO about getting a
    bullying policy into place. Also, people hire me to come in and work with children on bullying– if your PTO is interested, they can contact me directly.

    When your daughter moves to middle school the dynamic will likely change since other children will be introduced into the mix and she can make new friends. Again, spending time with children who are in the area and outside of her school would be great because she would have those “new” friends when she enters her new school.

    Your pediatrician may have some great ideas as well. So you should check in.

    I hope this is helpful–

    Best regards,

    Dr. Robyn

  8. […] troubled and reassured by the schools that are asking to bring me in to talk to the children about bullying —in person, cyber, or otherwise. They may actually be noticing it may be a problem—or they’re […]

  9. Bullying in schools and violent video games are the topic of my dissertation. Maybe you have some information I could use that would foster a better understanding of bullying in schools, especially elementary schools.

    Thank you,
    Lidwine

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