Mean Girls, Slumber Parties, and Suicide/3 Tips to Help Parents Understand Bullying
Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Indirect Aggression may provoke adolescents to suicide if not addressed in time.
On April 16, 2011, a slumber party in Minnesota became national news when eighth graders Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz were found hanging in the home of Tracy Morrison, Fentress’ mother. It was a suicide pact that shocked America and provoked questions concerning bullying, cyber-bullying, and aggression. The suicide notes left behind expressed love for their families and specific requests for funeral arrangements.
Like millions of teens in America, Fentress and Moravetz were taunted, humiliated, and cyberbullied by other kids. Parents, teachers, and adults must be aware of the stealth bullying signs that fly under the radar. First, parents must understand the definitions and distinctions between cyberbullying, bullying, and indirect aggression. Second, it is important to learn what signs to look for. Finally, parents should take time to research interventions, resources, and/or counseling if they suspect their child is being bullied by another child.
“Cyberbullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.
What is bullying? According to Dan Olweus, creator of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program:
“A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”
This definition includes three important components:
1. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions.
2. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time.
3. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength.
There are three different types of bullying:
Physical: Kicking, hitting, pushing, pulling hair, and spitting.
Verbal: Teasing, name-calling, taunting, and making malicious threats.
Psychological: intimidation, indirect aggression, exclusion, and spreading rumors.
Many of us have all heard that, often times, girls are meaner than boys, but some studies report that girls are simply more “aggressive” indirectly. Psychiatrists call it “indirect aggression.” This is another form of bullying that may go unnoticed by parents, teachers, and other adults
What is indirect aggression?
Indirect aggression is also called “social” aggression. When closely analyzed, this type of aggression can be a social manipulation where the aggressor manipulates another person to attack a targeted individual. Adolescent girls are known to use manipulative social tactics to assert indirect aggression to gain power, position and emotional satisfaction among their peers.
•Rejecting others from the group,
•Spreading spiteful rumors about others
•Breaking trust and confidences
•Using code names to talk about others
•Leading others to dislike a person
•Ignoring to exclude from the group
Bullying and indirect aggression may cause:
- Suicidal Ideation
- Poor self-concept
- A drop in academic performance
- Health issues
- Changes Appetite
- Low self-esteem
- Change in behavior
- Drug and Alcohol consumption
How can parents help kids deal with social relationships?
•Keep in mind that almost all kids have trouble with friendships at some time.
•Realize that it’s okay to get mad. Talk to a teacher or guidance counselor about how to express your anger calmly.
•Think before you act
•Talk to the person one-on-one
•Express what you do not like
•Ask for an apology if necessary
•If you are being ignored by a friend, create a list of what a “true” friend means to you.
•If you are not invited to a party, plan to do something fun for yourself
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem due to bullying, please contact a counselor or professional that can help.
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