Bully: Beyond the buzzword

Dr. Novick says that the middle school years are rife with bullying, but older and younger kids face taunting too.

Bullying is one of the hottest buzzwords thrown around any social stratosphere today, from PSAs to catfights on reality TV. It’s become such an overused, abstract concept that it can be hard to tell when bullying is truly taking place. We spoke with Dr. Rona Novick, child psychologist and anti-bullying specialist, to clarify the terminology and explain what to do if bullying is impacting your child’s schoolwork and self-confidence.

How do you define bullying?
“The deliberate abuse of power to harm another person.” The three types of bullying — physical, social and emotional — are defined by the kind of harm that the acts cause. The one that’s least recognized by parents but is particularly painful for children of all ages is social bullying. That’s deliberate social exclusion: “You can’t belong” or “You can’t join us.”

Can people bully without malicious intent?
From a research perspective, bullying involves intent. In the real world, don’t we want to raise children who are kind — both intentionally and inadvertently? I don’t want to raise a child that leaves people out because they don’t pay attention to them any more than I want to raise a child who leaves people out deliberately and out of cruelty. I want to raise a child who has the social blinders off and thinks beyond their own needs about being nice and caring to other people.

What age group is most susceptible to bullying?
We know that the peak years for bullying are grades 4-8. That does not mean that it doesn’t exist in younger children. … Bullies are getting younger and younger. And it certainly continues to high school.

How can you recognize if your child is being bullied?
You have to create the kind of family environment where you do talk to your children about their social lives. Parents have much less awareness of their children’s social whereabouts now. We have to do due diligence. Boys are less likely to reveal than girls, but all children are fairly reluctant to tell parents what is happening. … They believe our involvement will make it worse. They believe we’re going to mess it up.

How do you avoid making a bullying situation worse?
One of the most important things parents can do is help the child to understand that in no way is this the child’s fault. There’s nothing the child does that makes them worthy of being bullied or victimized. It’s never their fault. Say, “I am here for you, I will be here for you. You can tell me about every single time this happens and we will keep working on it until we make this OK.” Bullying is about power, so bullies look for vulnerable targets.

What should you do if your child is around or part of bullying?
It’s a matter of engaging in frequent and ongoing conversations. One trick that parents can use is that children are much more open talking about situations out of a book or TV show than what’s going on in their own life. Once you’re comfortable with that, then you can make the bridge and say, “What about in your school? Could this really happen?”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.