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reviewed 7/29/2018

Bullying: Myth or fact?

The effects of bullying don't end after grade school. Studies have shown that children who are bullied can grow up to be depressed or have low self-esteem. Can you separate the hard facts from the popular misconception about bullying?

Myth or fact: Bullying and fighting are basically the same.

Myth. Bullying involves repeated, aggressive behavior and an imbalance or power. It can be physical, verbal or social. It's not the same as fighting or a one-time conflict. When adults treat it as such, it sends the wrong message to children. Kids need to be taught that bullying is always wrong, and no one deserves it.

Myth or fact: It's generally better to let kids handle bullying on their own.

Myth. Bullying is a form of abuse, and kids shouldn't have to face it alone. Parents and other adults can and should help. Children who are bullied can have long-term mental health issues. If you suspect your child is being bullied, talk to him or her. Show your support. Kids may be embarrassed at first—reassure them that it's not their fault.

Myth or fact: Most kids know that bullying is wrong and want to stop it.

Fact. Most children don't think bullying is cool, and may want to help. So talk to your kids about bullying, and share ideas for dealing with bullies. Tell your child: Look a bully in the eye, be assertive, question a bully's bad behavior and don't be afraid to ask an adult for help. Encourage your child to be kind to other kids who are bullied.

Myth or fact: Bullies are usually male loners with poor social skills.

Myth. Both boys and girls can be bullies. While bullies are sometimes isolated or antisocial, they can also be popular and well-liked. Just because your child has many friends does not mean he or she can't be a bully. If you see abusive, dominating tendencies in your child, talk to him or her about why their actions or language are inappropriate.

Myth or fact: Talking to a teacher or principal should easily resolve a child's bullying problem.

Myth. Most bullying takes place when adults aren't looking. Even if adults are aware, they can't always prevent it. If your child is being bullied or is a bully, make a plan of action with his or her school counselor. Talk to school officials about how bullying is handled. Also consider finding a mental health professional to help your child.

Does your child seem sad and withdrawn? Are you concerned about his or her mental health? Help your child maintain a positive outlook.

Learn how to help

Sources: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; American Academy of Pediatrics; StopBullying.gov

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