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Bullying in School | What Parents Need to Know


Bullying in School | What Parents Need to Know


Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?”  Do you remember chanting this schoolyard jingle as a young child? The meaning of this chant may have escaped you then. Now that you are a parent, you may have realized that it is a fallacy because in truth, words do hurt and can break anyone’s spirit, especially a vulnerable child. A lot of children have lost the joys of childhood because bullying has taken it away from them.

Bullying, in various forms, is taking place everywhere, even in places perceived to be safe, like schools. It can create a pervasive environment of fear, deterring a child’s learning, enthusiasm, ability to socialize and their overall healthy development. Like most parents, you may be appalled by the incidents that involve bullying, and more so if your child is involved, either as a victim or the one bullying. What can you do to help stop it? Though efforts are being exerted on many levels to address this growing crisis, it is still you who needs to begin the process of addressing it at home.

Unfortunately, many parents may not be prepared to build a bully-free environment at home or to assist their children from stopping the bullying at school or elsewhere. If you had bitter experiences as a child, memories can be stirred, so that helping your child can be more difficult. You and your child need not feel alone in this journey. You can win this battle by empowering yourself and your child with the right knowledge.  Start by understanding bullying and by seeking help from a qualified and caring counselor.


What is Bullying?

Good Therapy defines bullying as “an attempt, a systematic and ongoing one, to undermine and harm someone based on some perceived weakness.” It is deliberate and methodically planned, using abuse, intimidation, and/or coercion to sow seeds of fear. Experts say that for the behavior to be considered bullying, it must be aggressive and include an intentional act to hurt or harm someone, an imbalance of power, and repetition.”

Bullying has been around since time began and has taken so many forms. Psychology Today enumerates the different and most common forms or outlets, such as “spreading rumors, tormenting victims, verbal harassment, physical harassment, sexual harassment, threats, and gossiping.”  

Recently, bullying has evolved to include the misappropriate use of technology, such as texting messages or by cyberbullying, to hurt people. Regardless of time or place, any form of bullying is offensive.


Facts About Bullying


  • It’s a crisis. The number of youngsters struggling because of bullying is staggering. More than 3.2 million youngsters are bullied each year. According to the Center for Parenting Education, “75 – 90% of students are subject to harassment at the hands of fellow students at some point and 15% of students are severely traumatized by peer abuse.”


  • Any child can fall prey to a bully. Your child could be among the most popular in the school, yet it’s not a guarantee that he/she won’t be bullied. It is a fact that there is no particular type of target. Children are bullied because someone made a choice to target or torment them. Thus, you can’t assume that the victim is bullied because he/she is allowing it or because they have the “victim personality.” Such a mindset places the blame on the victim and not on the bully.


  • Both boys and girls are vulnerable. Though the profiles of the victims and bullies are not always consistent, targets are generally perceived as weaker or externally “different.” Both bullies and victims generally have poorer academic performance, but their socioeconomic levels are not correlated to bullying. Boys, however, are more exposed to and commit the most bullying, particularly the direct attacks. Meanwhile, girls are commonly victims of indirect attacks – spreading rumors, manipulation, social exclusion, gossiping, and verbal abuse.


  • Tormenters come in all shapes and sizes. Not every bully has low self-esteem or is a loner, though these are common features. There are several types of bullies. There are those who torment others because they feel entitled, being rich, popular or admired for their physical attractiveness. There are those who bully to improve their status, perceiving that they must prove themselves or gain recognition. There are also bullies who have been victims once; they could become bullies to end their situation. Then there are children who bully because of peer pressure.


  • Your child’s school isn’t always a haven. Studies show that school is the place where most of the bullying happens. It is commonly believed that big cities and smaller schools provide a safer and friendlier climate for children. The truth is, bullying occurs in the suburbs, rural communities and schools in large cities.


  • It can happen at any age. Though it is often associated with children and adolescents, it can happen at any stage of development. It can start as early as preschool and worsen around the 5th to the 8th grade. Peer harassment rises following 3rd grade and takes a dip after 10th grade. Use of physical abuse diminishes in higher grades. For some it never ends. When untreated, there is a higher chance that it can carry over into adulthood.


  • Bullying can have serious consequences. Bullying can impact your child’s emotional and physical health. Feeling alone, singled out, and unjustly mistreated, bullying victims can be vulnerable to low self-esteem, eating disorders, sleeplessness, self-harm, as well as feeling isolated, scared and humiliated. No wonder there is an immense number of youths today, who skip school to avoid their bullies. Bullying may also increase their risk for depression, anxiety and risky behaviors, while interfering in the development of their relationships and social skills. Tormenters, on the other hand, may feel so empowered that they can develop or adopt the wrong values, even as adults.


  • The victims don’t usually report bullying. Most children and adolescents do not report the bullies. One reason is because they are afraid that their tormentors will retaliate by hurting or humiliating them more. They may also not tell their parents or the school authorities because they are confused or ashamed. Older children may also prefer to keep things to themselves because they do not want to be judged as being weak or they believe that reporting it won’t help improve the condition anyway.


  • Know the warning signs of bullying. Whether your child is the target or the tormenter, you need to be able to recognize the signs to be able to help them.


According to Center for Parenting, some warning signs that your child may be a victim are:


At home


  • comes home from school with torn clothes, bruises, or injuries
  • does not bring classmates home
  • does not have a single good friend
  • is never or rarely invited to parties
  • is reluctant to go to school
  • chooses an illogical route to go to and from school
  • experiences restless sleep
  • loses interest in schoolwork
  • steals extra money from family members


At school


  • repeatedly teased in a nasty way, made fun of, or picked on
  • not able to defend himself
  • has his/her belongings taken
  • is often alone and excluded
  • is chosen last for team games
  • tries to stay close to the teacher
  • has difficulty speaking up in class
  • appears distressed or depressed
  • school work deteriorates


If your child is becoming a bully, the signs or behaviors to take heed of are:


  • physically and/or verbally aggressive
  • overconfident (perhaps a false bravado)
  • impulsive
  • low tolerance for frustration
  • positive attitude toward violence
  • strong need to dominate
  • little empathy
  • misuses being physically stronger than others their own age
  • may be seen as popular
  • can talk himself out of tricky situations
  • blames the victim
  • may have adults in his life who model violence or lack of respect for other people


Counseling Can Make a Difference

Bullying is a universal concern that affects many youngsters around the world. It has short-term and long-term adverse effects, whether your child is the victim or the bully. To address the issue and its effects on your child, it is best not to ignore it. Though intervention programs are likely available in their school, the burden of ensuring that personalized treatment is provided for your child still lies on your shoulders. For this reason, it may be more productive to seek support from a compassionate therapist/counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.

Bullying that occurs at a tender age can dramatically impact a young person’s life. It can similarly have lifelong consequences. There are a number of ways you can help your child from becoming the target or the offender. One of the best ways you can assist them is by letting a professional counselor/therapist from CCS – Cameron, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks meet with your son or daughter. Counseling can make a difference in their lives and yours too.

First, by helping you understand bullying and your child’s vulnerabilities, which can be very empowering. Second, by providing your child the appropriate, personalized diagnosis and treatment, so they can be free from the bullying. A counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks can help you resolve this serious issue, so they can enjoy the fulfilling life young people are meant to have. Call now!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
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Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
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