Verbal bullying is a serious issue that many children and teenagers face. In order to put a stop to this type of abuse, parents, teachers and members of the community must first understand what it is.
Once a verbal bullying situation is recognized, a variety of strategies can be used to stop it before the situation worsens.
What Verbal Bullying Is
Verbal bullying is most often committed by girls. It may consist of rumor spreading, using words that demean or degrade the victim or using words that cause social exclusion.
It may also be done as a way to dominate others. This type of bullying is just as damaging as physical bullying and can lead to serious effects for the victim, including an increased risk of suicide.
Ways Kids Can Stop Verbal Bullying
There are several responses and actions that kids can take that may help to put an end to verbal bullying. Some things to try include:
- Using neutral statements. Responding to a bully’s verbal assaults with neutral comments such as “possibly” or “maybe so” indicates to the bully that he or she isn’t going to get a big reaction from the victim.
- Using positive or agreeing statements. Examples of these include “who cares?” or “Yes, you’re right.”
- Remaining civil. Don’t sink to the level of the bully. Doing so may escalate the situation.
- Telling an authority figure. Bullying that interferes with a child’s social life, confidence, well-being and mental or physical health must be reported to an authority figure as soon as possible. An authority figure may be someone like a teacher, school counselor, school nurse, playground aide, tutor or parent.
Once a parent, teacher or another authority figure is made aware of a verbal bullying situation, action must be taken. An authority figure may be able to physically separate the bully from his or her victim.
The authority figure may be able to increase awareness of the effects of bullying and help others to identify such behaviors in the classroom, cafeteria and other places.
Adults can also help to diffuse the situation by determining what the motivating factors behind the bully’s behaviors are.