Your child has always enjoyed learning, but lately seems eager to avoid school. Stomachaches and mysterious illnesses pop up in the evening and seem to get worse as the school bus creeps closer to your street the next morning. It's possible the problem has nothing to do with how last night's dinner was digested. Your child could be worried sick over a schoolyard bully.
Bullies can take the fun out of school - where bullying happens most - and turn something simple like a ride on the bus, stop at a locker, or walk to the bathroom into a scary event that's anticipated with worry all day.
Children who are bullied often experience low self-esteem and depression, whereas those doing the bullying may go on to engage in more destructive, antisocial behaviors as teens and adults. Bullies, who often have been bullied themselves, may pick on others to feel powerful, popular, important, or in control. Often, they antagonize the same children repeatedly.
Sadly, bullying is widespread. According to a 2004 KidsHealth KidsPoll, 86% of more than 1,200 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls polled said they've seen someone else being bullied, 48% said they've been bullied, and 42% admitted to bullying other kids at least once in a while.
If your child is a victim of bullying, you can help reduce intimidation and fear by listening and offering to help. If your child is the bully, you'll need to emphasize that this kind of behavior is unacceptable, as well as discuss why he or she might be doing it and how to stop it.
The Different Ways Kids Bully
Bullying behavior isn't always easy to define. Where do you draw the line between good-natured ribbing and bullying? Although teasing resembles bullying because it can prompt feelings of anger or embarrassment, teasing can be less hostile and done with humor, rather than harm. Teasing often promotes an exchange between people rather than a one-sided dose of intimidation.
Although the black eye is a concrete sign that your child may be...