Child Violence - How to Prevent Your Child from
Becoming a Statistic
Did you know that over 6 million boys and 4 million
girls are involved in fights every year on school
grounds? Many are physically threatened while a
large number of students are also robbed.
Bullying has become a very serious "Hot" topic
today. It's been in the news, and the theme of
several talk shows in the past year. The problem
has been around for as long as people have been
around, but it's only been recently that we've
become aware enough to do something about it.
Mental and physical signs for parents to look
for to find out if their child is being bullied
include: Cuts, bruises, torn clothing, headaches
and/or stomach pains before it's time to go to
school, or a reluctance to go to school, poor
appetites, poor grades, decline/withdrawal from
usual activities, anxiety, not many friends, always
loses money, depression, fear, anger, nervousness,
and relates better to adults and teachers than
It also helps to understand the different types
of abuse the bully can inflict. This can vary from
physical (juvenile violence) to verbal, and include
mental control tactics. (Crushing your
The bully's pattern of physical abuse might
include: pushing, tripping, slapping, hitting,
wrestling, choking, kicking, biting, stealing, and
breaking things. (80% of the time bullying becomes
The bully's pattern of verbal abuse might
include: twisting your words around, judging you
unfairly, missing the point, passing blame,
bossing, making you self-conscious, embarrassing
you, making you cry, confusing you, and making you
feel small so he/she can feel big.
Children between the ages of 5-11 begin using
verbal abuse, and are capable of some physical
abuse such as fist fighting, kicking, and choking.
However, once a child reaches the age of 12,
psychological changes take place and the bullying
becomes more violent. This might include the use of
weapons and sexual abuse.
Murder between children was up 35% in 1997.
Today's 3, 4, and 5 year-olds could grow up to be a
generation of serial killers. Some signs to watch
for in younger children include setting fires, and
Usually bullies come from middle-income families
that do not monitor their activities. The parents
of bullies are either extremely tolerant and
permissive, and allow them to get away with
everything, or physically aggressive and
However, the parents are not always the cause.
There are many very loving and caring parents who
do not understand what went wrong.
Other reasons why kids slip into their "bully
suits" might include violence on tv/movies, and the
influence of "bully" friends.
You can't watch your child while he/she is at
school, so there is the possibility of him/her
hanging out with a child (or children) of negative
influence. Sometimes kids admire bullies for their
strength, or befriend them so as to stay on their
So if you're a wonderful parent knocking
yourself for what you did wrong, understand what a
strong influence other peers can have on your
Bullies need to be in control of situations, and
enjoy (gain power from) inflicting injury on
others. They are not committed to their school work
or teachers and may also show a lack of respect
towards their families. Usually bigger and stronger
than other children their own age, bullies believe
that their anger and violent behavior is justified.
They see threats where none exist out of paranoia,
or fear of facing reality.
The bully might lash out at people because he's
(or she's) angry about something. Maybe someone in
his life is bullying him. He could be hurting from
abuse he received in the past, or maybe he grew up
observing those around him using violence as a
means of settling differences.
Sometimes jealousy is the culprit. He needs to
feel better about himself in order to change, and
to stop bullying.
Or, in a worse case scenario, he might actually
be a sociopath, in which case he/she would need to
get professional help.
What can parents do to prevent their children
from getting bullied? Tell your children to walk or
play with friends, not alone, and to avoid alleys
and empty buildings, especially after dark. Make a
list with the child as to where they are allowed to
go, and places/phone numbers where they can get
Know your child's friends and make sure that
everyone understands your view of teasing and
violence. Maintain a trusting, open communication
with your child while teaching him/her to be both
strong and kind.
If your child is a victim, he needs to know that
he's ok, and not the one with the problem. Have him
tell his school guidance counselor the name of the
bully who is victimizing him. Or you might try
talking to the principal or his teachers directly.
And if you know the parents of the bully, you might
try confronting them as well. However, there's a
good chance they'll either be in denial, or be as
unconcerned as their child.
If physical abuse is the problem, and you're
afraid of angering the bully (revenge), tell the
teacher, or whomever, not to pass on your or your
child's name while settling the situation unless
it's absolutely necessary. There's a good chance
he's victimizing other children as well, and won't
need to know exactly who busted him.
Children who use violence to resolve conflicts,
grow up to be adults who use violence to resolve
conflicts. However, if a child is backed up against
a wall, or into a corner, then he obviously needs
to defend himself and should not stand there while
getting pounded. He could walk (or run) away. But
in order to escape conflict in the first place, the
child should ignore, or avoid the bully. Don't play
with (or for older kids "hang out" with) the
bullies, and don't play or hang out "near" them.
Teach your child to only fight back if he/she
*needs* to defend himself - - as a last resort.
Young people need to believe in themselves in
order to feel better. (self-esteem) Not by winning
a fight, or even being part of a fight that he/she
didn't initiate. In order to be a strong person,
you have to learn what to say at the right time,
and believe in what you are saying. ("I won't fight
you because it is wrong" or "This isn't what
friendship is about") Walking away from the fight,
knowing you are the *better* person, is a lot
healthier for the body and mind.
If verbal abuse is the problem, your child could
try confronting the bully himself. Get him alone.
Bullies like to show off by embarrassing you in
front of a group of people. They might not be so
tough without a crowd. Tell your child to be firm,
stick up for himself, and tell the bully, "I don't
like what you're doing to me, and I want you to
If the child is old enough to reason, have him
tell the bully how it feels to be bullied. Don't
stress what the bully did, or the accusations might
make him defensive. Then he'd be less likely to
listen. If he's willing to listen at all, he might
be willing to change. However, if he's unwilling to
listen and starts getting nasty, your child is
better off staying away from him, or ignoring him.
But if his verbal abuse turns into threats, notify
someone in authority.
Sometimes having things/property stolen
victimizes a child. Putting your child's name on
everything is an important thing to do. This means
each and every crayon! It also helps to not allow
him/her to take things of any major importance or
value to school. Again, if nothing else works, have
the bully reported.
For the past 10 years child on child violence
has been increasing. Physical abuse, sexual
harassment and robbery have driven many victims to
substance abuse or suicide.
©2012 Kathy Noll
* * *
In violence, we forget who we are. - Mary
Noll is the co-author of Taking
the Bully by the Horns.
She has had her short stories/articles published in
magazines along with interviews, helped NBC news
monitor a classroom in Philadelphia for bullying
behavior, and also helped many people with their
own bully problems through her book, educational
and family related Internet chats, message board
hosting, and e-mail. She has also spoken on radio
and television shows discussing the topics of
school violence and self-esteem. Most recently she
appeared with co-author Dr. Carter on the Montel
Williams show where they talked to kids about
bullies, and promoted their book, "Taking the Bully
by the Horns." She also works as a consultant for
various TV News & Talk Shows. Her second book,
Encounters with Every-Day Angels, is a
workbook on bullying and character development that
can be used in the classroom. www.kathynoll.com
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