The perception of bullying has shifted from being a normal part of growing up to a pressing social and public health issue. Many school administrators and higher education faculty involved in the field view attitudes as a welcome shift, but say how to deal with bullying behavior can still perplex even the most devoted parent, teacher or principal.
Clemson University psychology professor Robin Kowalski told South Carolina Radio Network that bullying happens to boys and girls. “Both boys and girls more traditional bullying, and it is called that, is verbal as opposed to physical,” said Kowalski.
Kowalski said having a dialogue between parents and kids is important. “Communication is key. Because we know that most victims of traditional bullying are unwilling to tell their parents about it or some other authority figure,” said Kowalski.
Kowalski said that parents and teachers should not just expect kids to“figure it out” themselves. Bullying behavior is not something that “makes a child tougher,” she said, and telling a child to ignore it or “just laugh it off” is a missed opportunity to address the behavior.
She said parents, teachers and school administrators should talk about their own expectations of how people should be treated in order to set precedents and establish a welcoming environment that is open and honest for children.