Bullying: bad for your health

You could not pay me to go back to high school. Bad hair, braces, uncomfortable dates, catty school girls and boy drama was enough the first time around, and I would never want to go back. Add in texting, Facebook and instant messaging and you have a whole new slew of dramas.

Which is why bullying is on the rise. Not many people would go up to someone and call them a name. However, behind the mask of anonymity the internet provides, bullying has reached a new level of cruel, one that I am happy to not have witnessed it my school days.

With the new methods of bullying comes new ways to avoid it. School shootings are often a result of ‘outsiders’ who felt bullied and wanted to get back at those who ‘wronged’ them. Or the action is against themselves. Phoebe Prince made headlines earlier this year when she committed suicide because classmates bullied her incessantly.

Will bullying get worse? And how can we prevent or stop this epidemic from getting worse?

Be involved in your kid’s life. Constant involvement in every thing your kid does is a great way to keep tabs on their lives. No, don’t become a helicopter parent (a parent who hovers constantly over a child), but being involved and having a good relationship is the best way to open lines of communication. Start discussions of bullying when your child is young. I don’t mean that you should introduce bullies to your two-year-old, but start discussing why we are kind to others and how it makes us feel. If you think your child might be getting bullied, ask them simple questions about their interactions with classmates. Problems? Interrogation will get you nowhere. But let them know you are there. And empower your child to stand up to cyberbullies or to tell someone when things are happening.

Monitor their online activity. Sound like snooping? Well, let’s be honest. It is your house and what goes on under it is your business. But that does not give you a full license to read every single email. Make sure computers are in an open space like the kitchen or family room, so it is less likely that any funny business will go on. And if you notice your kid is agitated, sad or bothered after spending time on the computer or texting, it’s time to get the conversation rolling.

Do not tolerate bullying. If you find that your child is being bullied, it is time to take action. Keep a detailed record of all bullying interactions. (this is easier if it is online). Meet with other adults who might be involved to rectify the problem. Connect with the bully’s parents (good chance the parents have no idea what is going on) and let school teachers or coaches know about the problem. Not enough? Contact the police.

If your child is bullied, it is beneficial for them to visit the school counselor. Want more specialized help? Most affordable health insurance plans will cover counseling.