Now that school’s back in session, it’s more important than ever to talk to your kids about bullying. We all understand the devastating effects being bullied can have on a teen, but did you know that just witnessing minor insults and threats can also increase the risk for drug use, social anxiety, and symptoms of depression?
A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that students who witness violent behavior in school at age 13 are at risk of negative impacts at age 15 on their psychological and social well-being as well as their academic performance. What’s really shocking is the researchers discovered that the effects of witnessing different forms of bullying as a bystander were similar to being victimized directly.
Since my daughter Chloe is home-schooled, you might think we don’t need to be concerned about this, but bullying can happen anywhere young people gather—sports clubs, parties, you name it.
It’s another reason why it’s so important to ask your kids about this. Don’t just ask them if they’re being bullied, but also find out if they’re seeing any threatening behavior.
Here are three quick tips from TeensHealth you can share with your teens on how to deal with bullies whether they’re the one being targeted or if they’re witnessing the behavior:
- Ignore them and walk away. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get from the people they victimize. If you don’t give them the reaction they’re seeking, they may get bored and stop the behavior.
- Take charge of your life. Finding activities that make you feel good about yourself can boost your confidence, which makes you less vulnerable to bullying. One reason I am such a fan of karate is the sense of empowerment and confidence it builds. People (especially kids) who feel empowered and display more confidence are less likely to become victims of bullying.
- If you see someone getting bullied, say something. Tell your parents, guidance counselor, or pastor about what’s going on.
I made a video earlier this year with Chloe where we talked about tips to stay strong and stand up to bullies. Take a look to find some additional tips your teens can use.
Check out my parenting page for more helpful resources.