The Tragic Picture of Bullying

   Written by on July 28, 2016 at 1:59 pm
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Last week we witnessed a tragic outcome of bullying.  The news reported that a young man who was subject to bullying lured a group of teenagers to a specific location and then took their and his life.  This is a tragic outcome resulting from tragic bullying.  It raises the question: what is bullying and how can it be stopped?

What is bullying? defines  bullying as unwanted aggressive behavior among school age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance that  is repeated over time.

Bullying can be physcial, a form of communication, a negative relationship interaction or distruction of property.  Physcial bullying includes hitting, kicking, using threatening gestures, and shoving.  Communication bullying is verbal, oral or written communication such as sarcastic jokes, name calling, graffiti, and verbal threats.  Relational interactions that are meant to harm the reputation and relationships of a person, such as rumor-spreading, posting embasrrassing images online, or social isolation is a form of bullying.  Bullying also includes theft or destruction of property.

Bullying can be direct such as pushing, taunting or mean text messages.  It can also be indirect; that is, spreading rumors or online postings.  Bullying has moved into cyberspace with Facebook, text messages and emails.   Cyberbullying adds expanded dimensions to bullying.  Electronic communication can spread very easily.   Also,  it is easier to say mean things online, things that you would not say face to face.  Lastely, cyberbullying can happen 24/7 and hateful electronic communication stays online forever.

What puts a child at risk for bullying?  Nationally, 28% of students ages 12 to 18 reported they’ve been bullied.  Although there is no single fact that puts a child at risk of bullying, there are groups of children that report higher incidents of bullying.

Children with learning disabilities are at greater risk of being teased and physically bullied, compared with other children,  as are children with special health care needs, such as diabetes, eczema, ADHD or those who are overweight.  Also, students where English is not the primary language at home are frequently bullied.

What is the effect of bullying?  Bullying can affect the health, mental health, and academic performance of our children.  Children who are bullied experience lower self- esteem, greater loneliness, and greater anxiety.  They tend to internalize problems.  Children involved in bullying are more likely to suffer depression, to hurt themselves without intending to die, to have high levels of suicidal thoughts, and to have attempted suicide.

What can we do to stop bullying?  The frequency and the effect of bullying do not paint a pretty picture for our children.  We, as adults, can help reduce bullying.  First, we need to understand children do not report bullying.  They fear their classmates will label them “tattlers” or “snitches.”  Also, they worry about possible retaliation.  Children need to know that there is a safe place to talk about bullying.  Take time to talk with your children about bullying.  Help your children understand it is ok to talk about bullying.

Watch what your children post online.  For example, look at their Facebook and Twitter pages.  Remind them, others may not find their sense of humor funny.

Don’t let your kids think that it is cool to bully others.  Help your children notice if others are being left out, made fun of, or bullied in other ways.  Talk with your children, explain what they think may be funny and harmless, may devastate someone else.  Help your kids see it is cool to step in to be a friend or to help in other ways.

Set a good example that shows you won’t accept bullying.  Hearing you gossip about people provides your children the idea it is ok to talk about people in a negative way.  At work, treat everyone in a non-bullying, respectful way.  Your children may copy how you treat others when they are dealing with their classmates.

As school is about start, don’t forget how important it is for everyone to work together to stop bullying.

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.  Romans 12:21

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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