About 70 percent of high school students have been bullied at one time or another, reports the Boston Children's Hospital website, and 160,000 students miss school daily after being victimized. Bullying can be physical, verbal or social, which can make it more difficult for parents to identify if their children are being bullied. Bullying is about gaining power over another child, but parents can help their teens to deal with this issue in a safe manner.
Many children are bullied because of their weight, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org, which can lead to self-esteem problems. Some overweight teens even drop out of school because of bullying, which can limit employment options in the future. Other students could victimize teens who are perceived as homosexual, regardless of their actual sexual orientation. Over 10 percent of eighth graders reported being bullied because others believed they were gay, according to the Medline Plus website. About 90 percent of gay students have also reported being bullied because of their sexual orientation.
Teens often pick on peers who lack social skills. This includes individuals with autism, Tourette syndrome and learning disabilities. These teens might not have the ability to interact with classmates effectively, which leads to backlash from bullies. Speech impediments are another reason behind bullying, as 43 percent of students who stutter report being bullied, reports the Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders journal.
The Bully's Issues
Bullies are usually larger and more aggressive than the people they harass, but the Child Welfare Information Gateway website suggests that this aggression could be indicative of difficulties in their own lives. Exposure to domestic violence and abuse can bring out bullying behavior in teens. These teens learn to accept one person using his power to dictate the actions of another person. Low levels of supervision at home can also lead to bullying, since the child is unlikely to have a set of rules to follow.
What Parents Can Do
Parents can help prevent bullying by teaching their children how to handle these situations. Since most bullies are simply looking for a reaction, tell your teen to keep her composure and walk away from the conflict. If the bully continues to harass the child after she leaves the situation, tell her to become more assertive by standing tall and looking the bully in the eyes. She can tell the bully that she will not fight, but will not back down either. In most cases, the bully will find a weaker target to pick on after the teen sticks up for herself. In situations where the bully continues to bother your teen, you can intervene by bringing the situation to the attention of the principal, suggests HealthyChildren.org.