“My Mother Can’t Help Me Do Anything About Bullying!”
Why kids don’t tell anyone about their bullying ordeals.
Many kids who are mercilessly bullied tend to keep quiet about it, keeping their secret from parents and teachers who might be able to solve the problem, experts say.
According to the website www.LiveScience.com, experts at the University of Toronto, who reviewed studies on the subject, cited several reason for kids’ silence, including:
*The location of the bullying. Often it happens out of sight of parents and teachers, so a bullied child will have to take the initiative to tell them.
*Self-blame. Victims may think they invited the bullying. LiveScience reported that a girl told researchers that her victimization was her fault, because she was “a little chubby.”
*Fear of retaliation. Kids think that if they “tell” on a bully, the bullying will only get worse.
*Fear that parents or teachers won’t do anything to help them.
Other unfortunate trends that researchers see in bullying are the victimization of kids who were adopted by parents of a different race, and the harassment of kids who are gay, or who are perceived to be gay.
Sara Docan-Morgan, a professor of communications at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, who studied children of “transracial” adoptions, found that Korean children of white parents might not want to tell about the bullying because it pointed out their difference or because they thought their white parents might not understand being taunted for their race. “They wanted to blend and fit in…This [the bullying] highlights the fact that they don’t blend in with their family or community,” she told LiveScience. And children who are teased about being gay or lesbian may also feel the same way.
Experts suggest that the best way to communicate with kids about bullying is to ask them questions about their day at school, and listen to the answers. If a child says he or she is being bullied, says Susan Swearer, a professor of child psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a parent should focus on solving the problem rather than seeking revenge.
“Where I see things going south fast is when parents march into the school and they’re irate,” she told LiveScience.”It really ends up not helping anybody.”At the same time, though, Swearer acknowledged that the methods used to combat bullying vary widely from school to school. Ideally, she said, a school should have an explicit anti-bullying policy, open communication and a confidential reporting system.
“If we could be smarter at the front end about how we’re dealing with this, we’d obviously be better off.” (livescience)
Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.