Before your children go back to school, there are a few things parents should know on the subject of bullying. Dana Mudrock has been in law enforcement for 19 years, 17 as an officer, and has worked in Forensics, Patrol, Special Victims Unit, Civil, and is currently assigned to the Riverton City precinct working as the D.A.R.E Officer for Riverton. She has teaches the D.A.R.E. program at 7 elementary schools and within that program teaches a lesson on bullying.
What is bullying?
Dana teaches kids the 3 P’s: Power, Persistence, and Purpose.
Bullying is 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.
What are some warning signs to look for in your children?
If your child is being bullied you may see some of the following,
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
If your child is being a bully you may see,
- Get into physical or verbal fights
- Have friends who bully others
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Blame others for their problems
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
- Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
What can parents do to get involved, or should they?
Parents should absolutely get involved! Be proactive, hopefully not reactive. Parents are the #1 influence on a child’s life, (yes even in the teen years). Many times kids won’t come out and ask for help, they may even think being bullied is just normal. On average less than half of all bullying incidents are ever reported. Some reasons are that the child feels helpless, there is fear of the bully, they may feel embarrassed to admit that they are being picked on, or they may just think that no one cares. There are online resources for parents to go, they just have to educate themselves so they can better help their children.
How big of a problem is bullying in Utah?
In a study she read on bullying prevalence in the U.S., Utah rated #15. That’s not saying we are the worst, but she definitely think we could do better. Overall it is a group effort. It starts at home, you need to teach your kids empathy, to not be bystanders, to not ostracize someone if they are different, we need to embrace differences. Really how boring would life be if we were all the same? Bullying is a huge problem in our society, because it leads to other things, some statistics are:
1. 160,000 students stay home from school every day due to bullying. (NEA)
2. A bully is 6 times more likely to be incarcerated by the age of 24.
3. A bully is 5 times more likely to have a serious criminal record when he grows up.
4. 2/3 of students who are targets become bullies.
5. 20% of all children say they have been bullied.
6. 20% of high school students say they have seriously considered suicide within the last 12 months.
7. In schools where there are anti-bullying programs, bullying is reduced by 50%.
8. Bullying was a factor in 2/3 of the 37 school shootings reviewed by the US Secret Service.