Bullying is an all too frequent occurrence today, with nearly 30% of students ages 12 to 18 reporting being bullied at school and more than 70% reporting having seen bullying happen. While most bullying happens at school, it can occur anywhere – like a playground, school bus or at someone’s home. Bullying online, known as cyberbullying, is also a growing concern. What is bullying? Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior, often repeated over time, when a child or teenager tries to impose control or harm over others. An essential element of bullying is an imbalance of power, such as when kids use physical strength, social popularity or embarrassing personal information to make another person feel less – less important, less safe, less confident, less valued. Bullying can cause lasting problems for both the person bullied and the person doing the bullying and, in some cases, may lead to childhood trauma. When children feel significant fear – or even terror – as a result of controlling behaviors directed at them from another child or children, it can change a child’s view of himself or herself as well as their sense of safety in the world around them. If strong enough, these feelings can result in symptoms, which, in time, can lead to higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide in the adults they become. In other words, when a child feels so threatened or scared that it effects his/her daily functioning, then he/she may be experiencing childhood trauma. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers comprehensive resources to help parents with issues associated with bullying. You can access these bullying resources here.
Make Internet Safety a Priority
Children today live a significant part of their lives online, including a full range of social media activities, video sharing and text messaging to stay engaged with their friends. While the Internet can be enriching, it can also pose dangers for children, including cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate material and online predators. That’s why it is critical for parents to keep an eye on their children’s Internet activities and adopt Internet safety procedures and rules. Learn more about age appropriate Internet safety through the webinars and resources offered by the Illinois Attorney General here.