5/17/18

Communication and coping mechanisms reduce effects of bullying

It starts early.

Bullying can start in early childhood, and continue into middle school and high school. It may be different in boys and girls, but can lead to heartache just the same.

With advancements in technology, bullying has taken on a new face.

Cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices such as cell phones and computers. It involves sharing negative, false or mean ideas about someone. It can also include sharing embarrassing or personal information.

Bullying can lead to a variety of negative outcomes in the victim, such as feelings of fear, anger, frustration and anxiety. It can also contribute to problems with attendance or discipline, low self-esteem and low self-confidence.

If your child is exhibiting these signs, please contact the Psychology and Psychiatry team at (217) 365-2855. Carle also offers pediatric mental health services through our Child Diagnostic Clinic. (CDC) CDC is a unique multidisciplinary clinic offering a team approach for children ages two to 18 with developmental, behavioral and learning disorders. No other facility in the area offers this comprehensive service for children.

Advances in technology make it easy for bullies to target their victims consistently and publicly.

“Social media has opened up many avenues that bullies can use to attack,” said Andrea Klein, PhD, child/adolescent Psychology. “They can use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, in addition to text messaging, email and instant messaging.”

Kids cyberbully for a variety of different reasons. Some may see it as a way to stay popular at school, especially when their friends support their actions. Others may bully to cope with low self-esteem or because they lack the ability to empathize.

“Cyberbullying is different from more standard bullying because of the anonymity,” said Klein said. “Cyberbullies feel like they don’t necessarily have to face their victims. Also, being behind a computer screen or cell phone may give the bully the idea they won’t get caught.”

Parents play an active role in recognizing warning signs of bullying. If a child is showing signs, such as loss of interest in school and activities or declining grades, there are ways to promote positivity and communication at home.

“Parents should make sure they’re talking about bullying at home to keep lines of communication open,” said Klein. “Parents can also introduce coping mechanisms, such as physical activity, to distract their child from any feelings of anxiety or sadness.”

Parents can also try to curb certain actions if they believe their child is the one doing the bullying. Methods include focusing on empathy for others, talking to their child about how it feels to be bullied, and letting their child know they will help them.

“School counselors or mental health professionals can be very useful resources for extra help,” said Klein. “Bullying in any form needs to be taken seriously.”