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|Quick reference medical handouts used
by Pediatric offices
Put a Stop to Teenage Bullying Behavior
Bullying has been
occurring for hundreds of years, but that doesn’t make it an
acceptable behavior. Recently, the U.S. has experienced an
increase in school shootings by students. Scarier yet, we’re
learning that the teens committing the violence are blaming it in
part on being bullied by their peers. According to Sherryll
Krazier, PhD, executive director of the Coalition for Children,
our best defense against this “trend” is to understand bully
characteristics, learn what to do if you’re being bullied, and
recognize methods we can use to prevent this potentially
What is bullying?
Bullying in adolescence can take many forms: physical, emotional,
verbal or a combination of these. It may involve one person
bullying another, a group of youths against a single youth, or
groups against other groups (gangs). It is similar to other forms
of victimization and abuse in that it involves:
- an imbalance of power
- differing emotional tones: the victim will be upset whereas
the bully is cool and in control
- blaming the victim for what has happened
- lack of concern on the part of the bully for the feelings
and concerns of the victim
- a lack of compassion
What type of people are bullies?
Bullies are very often young people who have been bullied or
abused themselves. Sometimes they are teens experiencing life
situations they can't cope with, that leave them feeling helpless
and out of control. They may be teens with poor social skills, who
do not fit in, who can't meet the expectations of their family or
school. They bully to feel competent, successful, to control
someone else, to get some relief from their own feelings of
Who gets bullied?
Not all teens are equally likely to be victimized by bullying
behavior. Those who are more prone to be “picked on” tend to
have the following characteristics:
- low self-esteem
- lack of social skills,
- don't pick up on social cues
- cry or become emotionally distraught easily
- unable to defend or stand up for themselves
Some teens actually seem to provoke their victimization. They
may tease bullies, make themselves a target by egging the people
on, not knowing when to stop and then not being able to
effectively defend themselves when the balance of power shifts to
Teens who are NOT bullied tend to have better social skills and
conflict management skills. They are more willing to assert
themselves about differences without being aggressive or
confronting. They suggest compromises and alternate solutions.
They tend to be more aware of people's feelings and are the ones
who can be most helpful in resolving disputes and assisting
classmates to get help.
What should I do if I’m being bullied?
Remember there are alternatives to responding to bullies. Don’t
get involved with bullies in any kind of interchange. Don't take
it personally; it's really the bully’s problems that are causing
the situation, NOT you.
- don't react
- walk away, get help if pursued
- agree with the bully, saying "you're right" and
- be assertive and calm
- report the behavior if it continues
How can we prevent bullying?
Characteristics of bullying can begin as early as preschool and
elementary school. While in the early years, parents and other
adults can play a major role in recognizing and preventing
bullying behavior. However, when bullying reaches the junior high
and high school levels, there are actions you can also take to
During the teenage years, cliques are commonplace, and groups
form with specific identities (such as jocks, brains, populars,
nerds, goths, outcasts…the names change with the times). Teasing
and joking are universal, and as long as it’s mutual it’s OK.
But when it’s done on purpose to be harmful, that’s bullying.
Adolescents who are not bullies or victims have a powerful role
to play in shaping the behavior of their peers. Teens can
assertively speak up on behalf of classmates being bullied.
"Don't treat her that way, it's not right." "Being
cruel is not a good way to solve problems; let's get help and talk
about what happened." An important key in preventing bullying
is think of your teachers as protectors, not regulators. Don’t
be afraid to talk to your teachers if you know about classmates
who are being bullied or who are bullies. The code of ethics
should be that everyone deserves respect.
Adapted from The Safe Child Book by Sherryll Krazier,
PhD, Fireside Books/Simon and Schuster, 1996