Take Bullying Seriously

Young woman holding her head looking at her cell phone. - 10/02/2020

The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” guides viewers through the story of high school student named Hannah who takes her own life. Hannah left behind a box of cassette tapes that she recorded revealing the 13 reasons why she chose to end her life and who played a part in her death. From the first episode viewers see that bullying is a common theme. Hannah’s story is fictional, but this type of thing often plays out in real life. We need to take bullying seriously.

Do you know how to identify a child bully? It’s not always easy. Some kids make it look like playful behavior, when it’s really unwanted aggressive behaviors. Actions may include hitting, slapping, name-calling, tripping, teasing, spreading rumors, pushing or leaving someone out of a group. 

Then there’s cyberbullying which isn’t as visible. Cyberbullying can be an image, text message, chat forum, gaming, email and other digital platforms. Outing or doxing is a way to make public sensitive or personal information about another person for the purpose of embarrassment. Fraping is when a bully uses another kid’s social networking account to post inappropriate content with his or her name. 

It can take a long time for a child to find relief from this form of bullying as it is permanent and public. Be aware of your child’s online behavior. One of the first ways to recognize cyberbullying is by a change in mood or behavior. Look for a connection between the behavior and the digital device usage, and then talk about it. Open communication is critical.

It’s also important to get help for the child who is bullying. Two types of kids are more likely to bully others: 

  1. Well-connected to friends, have social power, are overly concerned about being popular and like to dominate others.
  2. Isolated from peers, may be depressed, anxious or have low self-esteem, be less involved at school, easily pressured by others, or not identify with how others feel.

Help them understand why they act this way. Sometimes it’s learned behavior as they are unsafe at home. It may be a cry for help.

One simple step can be taken to help prevent a tragic occurrence like Hannah’s in the television series: report bullying and support others if you witness bullying.

If you or someone you know has been bullied and struggle with mental health issues as a result, please reach out to a trusted friend to talk about it or seek help from an expert.