Do You Know the 3 Types of Child Bullying?
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Katie Riley, AOTA
For National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, a pediatric occupational therapist offers insight to identifying bullying.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” the old saying goes. But whoever penned this phrase was most likely not subjected to today’s level of bullying. Name-calling has morphed into more than a circle of gawkers on the playground but can go viral in an instant via the Internet and social media networks.
According to a 2009 report, approximately one-third of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied within the past year. Studies show that the peak age that bullying takes place is between ages 11 and 13.
“Bullying can cause absenteeism from school, illness, emotional distress, loneliness, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and in the worst cases self-harm or suicide,” says Susan Bazyk, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, a professor of occupational therapy at Cleveland State University who runs an after school program focusing on healthy social interactions. “Bullying can affect a child’s mental and physical health, which can affect their everyday functioning at school and home. It is important for us to tune into kids’ behaviors, social interactions to monitor signs of bullying.”
Think your niece or nephew might be a victim of bullying? Your understanding of the situation might mean more than you imagine.
October is National Bullying Awareness Month, and while most schools have adopted bullying prevention programs, it is important to recognize the signs of bullying and to act on it. As a Savvy Auntie, you too can help your nieces and nephews cope with the social challenges they face by understanding bullying, the signs of bullying, and ways to overcome it.
There are three types of bullying: 1) direct bullying (acts of aggression, including hitting, name-calling, and gestures), 2) indirect bullying (exclusion or rumor spreading), and 3) cyberbullying (sending threatening or hurtful messages via phone or Internet).
Signs of bullying include:
-Frequent headaches, stomach aches, or faking of illness
-Changes in eating habits
-Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
-Loss of interest in school, declining grades
-Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
The ultimate goal for occupational therapy practitioners is to help people of all ages live the fullest life possible. For children, this means helping them feel good emotionally and do well functionally both in and out of school. Occupational therapists do this by helping children develop friendship skills (e.g., knowing how to enter a group, demonstrating empathy) and strategies for standing up to a bully (e.g., take a deep breath, speak in a clear and confident voice). Research indicates that when children have at least one good friend, they are less likely to be bullied, says Bazyk.
What can Auntie do?
1. Tune into your niece’s or nephew’s emotions. If she or he seems sad or withdrawn, ask about the cause. Be a good listener.
2. Show an interest in your niece’s or nephew’s friendships and promote positive relationships. Offer an understanding ear when friendship issues arise.
3. Encourage your niece or nephew to engage in healthy hobbies and interests that provide opportunities to make friendships.
To learn more about how occupational therapy practitioners work with children to build healthy relationships, download the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Bullying Prevention and Friendship Promotion Info Sheet.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards, including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.
Published: October 23, 2013