The most recognized form of bullying in elementary school is physical violence—such as hitting, punching, pushing or taking another student’s belongings. However, as prevalent as physical violence is, verbal bullying is more common and can be even more damaging as its physical counterpart. Verbal bullying comes in many forms, including taunting, threatening or making fun of a student’s gender, religion, appearance, socioeconomic status or mannerisms. This type of bullying tends to spread quickly among students, who “follow” without thinking of the harm or consequences of what they’re doing. Verbal bullying can also lead to social alienation, which happens when a student is excluded from the group or rest of the class and made to feel inferior or different from everyone else. The bully’s unspoken message is that for others to avoid becoming his/her next target, the bystander should ignore their conscience and join in the isolate-the-victim game. According to recent studies, elementary school bullying is most commonly perpetrated by boys, who look for opportunities to take part in physical bullying when teachers and adults aren’t present or paying close enough attention, such as on the playground, in bathrooms, or in crowded hallways. They’re also most likely to pick on younger children. Bullying that occurs among girls deals mostly with social exclusion. Girls gang up against a victim as way of exerting control. Verbal bullying can also lead to social alienation, which happens when a student is excluded from the group or rest of the class and made to feel inferior or different from everyone else.
What You Can Do
- Help your child develop social skills.
- Encourage them to be friends with people of different backgrounds.
- Build empathy in your kids. If you see examples of people being bullied, talk with your children about how these people might feel.
- Role play with your child about bullies.
- Come up with words and actions they can do if they’re ever in that situation.
What Bullying Looks Like
- Name calling or yelling
- Making faces, rolling eyes
- Scribbling on someone’s work
- Trips or knocks books out of the victim’s arms
- Pushing, shoving and hitting
- Threatening comments
- Leaving a friend out of a situation; isolation
- Whispering behind someone’s back or gossip
- Making up false rumors about the victim
- Do you know of anyone who has been bullied?
- How you do you think it must feel? I can remember being bullied in school. Have you had to deal with a situation like that?
- My friend, who is also a parent, told me that his third grader was bullied.
- What would you do if someone pushed you?
- How would you feel if no one sat with you at lunch? What would you do?
- What would you do if all your friends were leaving a friend out?
- Did you know that just standing next to the victim can stop the bully?