A child who deliberately and consistently uses physical assault or verbal abuse to inflict fear or harm is a bully. Usually this behavior can begin as early as age eight, can be found in boys or girls, can take place anywhere children gather (including the Internet), and can cause extreme suffering and long-lasting emotional devastation for its victims. Because every child has the right to feel safe, parents, teachers, and school officials must learn to recognize the warning signs of bullying and create effective policies for dealing with and preventing such behavior.
Ask a twelve-year-old what he or she hates most about school, and you might be surprised to learn that the school bully outranks homework and tests on the fear-factor scale. A bully is a child who deliberately and [continually] uses physical assault or verbal abuse to harm another child that he or she sees as more vulnerable. Bullies and their victims can be as young as eight years old, and school bullying peaks in the high school years. Bullies and their victims can be boys or girls, and bullying can take place in cyberspace as well as [on] the schoolyard. Both the bully and his or her victim suffer, and some are driven to extreme or suicidal behavior.
Children who are bullied have a higher absentee rate because the bullying makes them feel physically sick.
According to a survey done by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50% of school age children report being bullied at some point during their school years, and 10% report being bullied [continually]. Children in this age group are most intensely aware of their peers' opinions, acceptance, and rejection. The experience of being singled out and picked on can turn into an even more emotionally devastating downward spiral, and the experience of power felt by a bully can also become a dangerous emotional high that pushes him or her to more extreme behavior.
Bullying takes place anywhere children gather: the playground, the...