Nearly a decade old, National Bullying Prevention Awareness month was initiated by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in October 2006. Did you know that 1 in every 5 children report being bullied? Bullying is classified as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose, according to stopbullying.gov.
With more and more children, especially teens, having access to social media, cyberbullying is unfortunately becoming a relentless avenue for children, teens and even adults to be bullied. Facebook and other social media websites can be used, and allow for “anonymous” cyberbullying to occur. For example, there may be a private group chat or page set up that the child, who is the victim of the bullying, is unaware of its existence. These private setups are eventually discovered, which then brings the full weight of anxiety and feelings of isolation on the victim.
Foster children are susceptible to bullying for a variety of reasons. Some feel like they have been rejected by their families and adding bullying to the equation can make an already difficult situation more challenging. At SAFY, we offer resources and tips developed by our clinical experts to improve the safety and well-being of children and families. Whether you’re a biological parent, foster parent or kinship parent, SAFY can help.
If you believe your foster child is being bullied, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs. Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Feeling sick often or faking illness
- Declining grades
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
If you believe your foster child is bullying others, some signs can include:
- Physical or verbal fights
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or detention frequently
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. Children don’t tell adults for many reasons and some include:
- Bullying can make a child feel helpless
- Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as a tattletale
- Kids may fear backlash from the other child who bullied them
- Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand
- Kids may fear being rejected by their peers and losing support
For foster parents, SAFY encourages you to help children understand bullying, what it is and how to stand up to it safely. Keep the lines of communication open with your children and remember, kids learn from adults’ actions, so model how to treat others with kindness and respect.