Advice and Resources for Helping
Your Mentee with Bullying & Gossip

We all remember bullies in school when we were growing up. Bullying involves the aggressive use of some form of power (being physically bigger, socially more popular, etc) to control or harm others. A bully might employ verbal harassment (teasing, threats), social harassment (leaving someone out, spreading rumors, gossiping), and/or physical abuse (hitting, tripping, stealing possessions) to torment or control other kids. Unfortunately, bullying is widespread, and getting more so, especially with new social technology which enables cyber bullying. Surveys show that nearly one-third of 6th to 10th graders are either bullies or victims of bullying.

Bullying can have lasting consequences both for the bully and for his or her victims.  Kids who are bullied are more likely to face depression and anxiety, health problems, and decreased academic achievement, including a greater risk of dropping out of school.  Bullies, on the other hand, are more likely to continue their violent behaviors as adults.  An estimated one in four elementary school bullies will have a criminal record by the time they turn 30.

If your mentee is being victimized by a bully, it may not be immediately apparent. Tell-tale signs might include unexplainable injuries, lost possessions, frequent headaches or stomachaches, declining grades and interest in school, sudden avoidance of social situations, and lower self-esteem. Problems like these can arise from other causes, but it’s important to consider that bullying might be an important factor.

It’s also important to realize that your mentee may be a bully her/himself.  Bullying is often learned at home, and it can be a sign of problems in the family, or transferred anger from another situation.

You can help to prevent and respond to bullying. By talking about bullying, you can help your mentee to recognize it when it occurs.  Using your listening skills to draw out your mentee can help you learn whether bullying or being bullied is a problem for him or her. You can also serve as an important role model of how to treat others with kindness and respect.  In addition, if your mentee reveals that he or she is being bullied, you can provide the support needed to work through the situation. See the resources below for specific help with this. If there seems to be a chronic, severe problem, consult your Mentor Advocate about services that may be available to help your mentee.

Resources

Stop Bullying
This is the Federal Department of Health web site on bullying. You’ll find information on how to talk to kids about bullying, how kids can protect themselves from bullies, and a wealth of other information and advice. The article, "How to Talk About Bullying," is especially useful.

 The Scoop on Gossip"

 Why telling bullying victims to 'just fight back' doesn't work"
The article is interesting, but the real value is in reading the responses of the readers. It’s a broad look at the problem from all points of view.

Bullying: Help Your Child Handle a School Bully?"
A short article from the Mayo Clinic with suggestions for adults and parents.

"How to Handle Bullying"

References

1. Stop Bullying

2. “Dealing With Bullying” for Teens, and "Dealing with Bullying" for Kids

3. “Youth Violence

4. “Gossip and Rumors

 

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Entries in teasing (3)

Tuesday
Apr232013

What Do You Think?: Teasing The Smart Kid

This article from the Fighting Back Mentor Program blog describes a scenario along with discussion questions, and facts to read with your mentee to talk about bullying kids who do well in school or are gifted.

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Tuesday
Apr232013

What Do You Think?: Cyber Gossip

This article tackles the topic of cyber gossip with a scenario, discussion questions, and factoids to read with your mentee to start a conversation about cyber bullying.

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Tuesday
Apr232013

What Do You Think?: Teasing the Kid Who Doesn't Sound Like You

This article includes a scenario, discussion questions, and factoids to read with your mentee to start a conversation about bullying kids just because they are different. It includes resources for helping your mentee deal with being teased or participating in teasing, and understanding that they are unique and don't need to be ashamed of themselves, no matter what anyone says about them.

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