Bullying. Unfortunately this is not a new topic. This subject is uncomfortable to discuss and even harder to prevent, because of the nature of human interaction. People use power and control to get what they want every day. When people cannot get what they need or want in appropriate ways, they often resort to bullying to achieve results.
Many times youth learn how to bully from watching the adults around them. When youth are around their peers, they too, may use bullying tactics as a way to achieve status or get what they want.
Bullying is when a child is a target, over time, of repeated negative actions. A bully is:
• a child who is repeatedly aggressive for rewards or attention.
• a child who lacks empathy and has difficulty feeling compassion for other children.
• a child who does not feel guilty.
• a bully fully believes that the victim provoked the attack and deserved to be bullied.
Who are bullies? Both boys and girls bully others. Many times boys will admit to being a bully and will use physical force as a tactic. Girls are more likely to use verbal threats and intimidation to bully others.
The victim of bullying is likely:
• isolated and alone during most of the school days.
• anxious, insecure and may have trouble making friends.
• small or weak and unable to defend him/herself.
• may cry easily, give up when bullied, or be unable to stick up for themselves.
• to have suffered past abuse at home.
What we can do when we suspect a child is bullying another child:
• Communicate a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, it just will not be tolerated at school, home, after school or in our community.
• Talk to children about appropriate behaviors.
• Teach our children appropriate coping skills so that they can defend themselves when attacked.
Children will stop bullying when it stops working. As adults we must have heart-to-heart discussions with our children about behaviors they exhibit and see exhibited in their classrooms.
We can make a difference, one child at a time.
Youth and their development is our focus in 4-H. We have zero tolerance for bullying. 4--H is open to girls and boys ages 5--18 without regard to color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status.
Heather Gordon is Jackson County extension agent, 4-H Youth Development.