Back-to-school: LSU AgCenter Family Life Professor Tells What To Do About Bullying

Diane Sasser  |  4/19/2005 10:28:30 PM

News You Can Use For July 2004

Bullying is a big problem that affects lots of children. Being bullied can make children feel scared, sad, worried or embarrassed, according to LSU AgCenter family life professor Dr. Diane D. Sasser.

The stress of dealing with bullies can even cause them to feel physically ill, Sasser adds.

Having bullies around can take the fun out of school. Some children feel afraid to go to the lunchroom, the restroom or the playground because of bullies. It's hard for them to keep their minds on schoolwork or enjoy friends when they’re worried about how they’re going to get around the bully near their lockers.

"Bullying bothers everyone – and not just the children who are getting picked on!" Sasser says.

Why are some children bullies? Some children are just looking for attention. They might think bullying is a way to be popular or a way to get what they want. Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important? When they pick on someone else, they feel big and powerful.

Some bullies come from families in which there is a great deal of conflict, and family members are angry and shouting all the time. They may think that being angry, calling names and pushing people around is a normal way to act. Some bullies are copying what they've seen someone else do. Some have been bullied themselves.

Sometimes a bully knows that what he or she is doing or saying hurts other people. But other bullies may not really know how hurtful their actions can be. Most bullies don't understand or care about the feelings of others.

Who gets bullied? Sasser says bullies often pick on someone they think they can have power over. They might pick on children who get upset easily or who have trouble sticking up for themselves. Getting a big reaction out of someone can make bullies feel like they have the power they want. Sometimes bullies pick on someone who is smarter than they are or different from them in some way. Sometimes bullies just pick on a child for no reason at all.

"Bullying can be a big pain, but your child should not have to let bullying get the best of him," Sasser says, offering some tips to share with your child if he or she is bothered by a bully:

• Act brave. When scared of another person, you're probably not feeling your bravest. Sometimes just acting brave is enough to stop a bully. If you walk by as though you're not afraid and hold your head high, a bully may be less likely to give you trouble.

• Ignore a bully. Simply ignoring a bully's threats and walking away robs the bully of his or her fun. Bullies want a big reaction to their teasing and meanness. Acting as if you don't notice and don't care is like giving no reaction at all, and this just might stop a bully's behavior.

• Stand up for yourself. Children can stand up for themselves with words by telling the bully to stop it and then walking away. Children can also stand up for each other by telling a bully to stop teasing or scaring someone else and then walking away together.

• Tell an adult. If you are being bullied, it's very important to tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents and lunchroom helpers at school can all help to stop bullying.

• Be a buddy. Children who are being bullied can use the buddy system. Make a plan to walk with a friend or two on the way to school or recess or lunch or wherever you think you might meet the bully. Offer to do the same for a friend who's having trouble with a bully.

• Don't bully back. Don't hit, kick or push back to deal with someone bullying you or your friends. Fighting back just satisfies a bully, and it's dangerous, too, because someone could get hurt. It's best to stay with others, stay safe and get help from an adult.

For information on related family and consumer topics in family, housing and nutrition, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/

Extension/Departments/fcs/ For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/
Source: Diane D. Sasser (225) 578-6701 or Dsasser@agcenter.lsu.edu

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