The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
Bullying includes not just physical violence, but also aggression that is verbal (threats, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments) and social (exclusion, rumor spreading, public embarrassment). As children increasingly use digital and online communications, cyberbullying has added an extra dimension of complexity to the problem.
While FLOC can not take action against bullying, it is important for parent(s)/caregiver(s), children, and volunteers involved with our program to recognize the signs of bullying and understand how to take action if and when bullying occurs. The warning signs of bullying are detailed below.
Signs that a child may be a victim of bullying include:
⦁ Unexplainable injuries
⦁ Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
⦁ Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick, or faking illness
⦁ Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
⦁ Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
⦁ Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
⦁ Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
⦁ Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
⦁ Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
Signs that a child may be bullying others include:
⦁ Get into physical or verbal fights
⦁ Have friends who bully others
⦁ Are increasingly aggressive
⦁ Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
⦁ Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
⦁ Blame others for their problems
⦁ Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
⦁ Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
At FLOC, we act as additional support to the children enrolled in our programs so we may help them prevent and/or cope with bullying. This policy, developed with stopbullying.org as a resource, addresses FLOC’s response to bullying of children in our programs.
Parents/Caregivers, Volunteers, and Staff
⦁ Learn to recognize the warning signs that a child is involved in bullying. They may be the victim, the bully, or a witness to ongoing bullying.
⦁ Begin to open the lines of conversation about bullying before it becomes an issue. Check in often about friends, school, and any concerns the child may have.
⦁ Practice problem-solving and role-playing techniques with the child. This includes, but is not limited to, eye contact, stance, voice inflections, ignoring the bully, reacting in a different way than expected by the bully, walking away, avoiding possible conflict, and reporting incidents.
⦁ Believe a child if they report a bullying incident to you. Take the report seriously and follow the steps below according to your role with BBBSNCA.
⦁ Record all details of any incidents reported by a child. This includes name(s), location(s), date(s), type of bullying, and any other important details.
⦁ Mentors: If your mentee reports bullying to you, you must report the incident to the parent/caretaker and BBBSNCA support staff.
⦁ Parents/Caregivers: If a child reports bullying to you, the incident must be reported to the school or location where the bullying occurred.
⦁ Staff: If a child or mentor reports bullying to you, the incident must be reported to the parent/caregiver.
⦁ Speak up loudly and clearly. Tell the bully that you do not like their actions and/or behavior, if it feels appropriate.
⦁ Walk away from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
⦁ Report the bullying incident(s) to a trusted adult immediately.
⦁ Seek involvement in activities that you find fun and interesting.
⦁ Talk to your teacher, parent(s)/caregiver, and/or mentor about your friends, activities, school, and anything that bothers you.
Here at FLOC, we believe that each child in our program has the right to be treated with respect and supported by caring, trusted adults. This policy ensures those rights.