Bullying and Teens- How to Help
Teen bullying is brutal. I know firsthand after my daughter attempted suicide after being bullied as a teen. More than physical or emotional bullying, teens often emphasize relational bullying (sometimes called social aggression) and cyberbullying, and it can be hard to identify the bullying to address it. Here is an overview of the behavioral differences with the four types of bullying:
1. Physical. The first is the most well-known: physical bullying. This includes hitting, kicking, punching, or tripping another person. Physical bullying is easy to see so adults can intervene much more quickly than they can with other types of bullying.
2. Verbal. Verbal bullying is also common and includes name-calling and making mean comments to someone’s face. This type of bullying again is easy to hear, so it can be easy to address.
3. Cyber. With the development of the Internet, cyberbullying has been on the rise. People can now post mean comments on social media or impersonate other people. Cyberbullying includes phone calls, text messages, emails, social media posts, blogs, and creating fake websites in someone else’s name. The scope of cyberbullying changes as fast as our technologies change, which means it’s not easy to detect or even stop. When the mean-spirited information goes out into the abyss, you cannot delete it; the data lives on.
4. Relational. A final type of bullying that is very common among teens is relational bullying or social aggression. This can include ostracizing a person, excluding her, ignoring a person in their presence, gossiping, or spreading rumors. It can include using code names to talk about him/her without revealing an actual name. Relational bullying is most common in girls, and it can become competitive and very dramatic.
The First Steps to Help Your Child Overcome Bullying
When your child has been bullied, she might not want to talk about it, and you might want to jump in and try to “fix it”. It can be hard to decide how it’s best to approach your child after she’s been bullied. Danielle Matthew says in her book The Empowered Child that using the Three E’s can help your teens handle bullying. I didn’t know it at the time, but I used them to help my own daughter at the time of her bullying.
1. Empathy. You want to be empathic by asking how your child might feel, but not telling her what she is feeling. Listen to her responses and focus on understanding how she feels through showing empathy.
2. Empowerment. Empower your child by asking him what he would like to do about the bullying. He may ask to do this himself and not want help from his parents. It is important for children and young adults to feel empowered to handle issues themselves. They will feel better in the long run if they are able to have a plan and feel empowered to complete the plan.
3. Engagement. Once your child has been empowered and is participating in the conversation, you can create a plan that includes all the people who need to be involved. Even if your child wants to handle the whole thing, you must make sure that you are committed to stepping in, if her safety or well-being is at risk. You can also engage the school, to make sure they are involved in keeping your child safe. Sometimes, getting help from a school can be difficult. Go all the way up the chain until you get your teen the helps she needs. Teacher- Counselor- Principal- School Resource Officer- Superintendent- School Board.
When your teen is being bullied you want to swoop in and help them, and one of the best ways to help them is to let them know that you are there for them, and will help them in any way you can. For my daughter, that meant letting her start her own blog and use her experience to start a movement, #BeBrave, encouraging other teens to Stand Up FOR the bullied, stand up TO the bullies, and to stand up for themselves. Empowering her to help others is what eventually helped her help herself.