Archives for October 2014

Bullying in 2014

Although bullying has occurred in some form or another since the human race began, it has become more of a problem in schools throughout the last decade or so. With the rise in popularity of social media among teens and the accessibility of cell phones and internet options, there are now new avenues in which kids can pick on their peers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services anti-bullying website defines bullying as “intentionally aggressive, usually repeated verbal, social or physical behavior aimed at a specific person or group of people.” The increase in bullying has sparked national campaigns in order to curb this growing negative trend in schools and the workplace.

According to a recent UCLA psychology study, those who bully are considered the “coolest” among participants. With 83 percent of teens and 79 percent of boys reporting being bullied, and approximately 30 percent of teens admitting to bullying themselves, it is clear that harassment at school is a growing problem affecting school work, social relationships and self-esteem.  Online bullying, officially coined cyberbullying, is one of the reasons bullying has increased, as it can be done anonymously, making it difficult to trace. In addition, online images and messages reach a wide audience very quickly causing a maximum amount of damage in a short amount of time. Because some suicides have been directly linked to cyberbullying and the fact that 75 percent of school shootings have been linked to bullying and harassment toward the perpetrator, it is clear that parents need to be on the forefront of the movement to help stem the tide.

What Can Parents Do?

There are a number of ways that parents can help protect their kids as well as helping those who are doing the bullying.

·         Keep the lines of communication open between you and your teen. If his behavior changes, his grades drop or he seems more withdrawn, it may be time to have a discussion about what is happening at school.

·         Discuss with your teen what he can do to avoid incidents at school. This can include assertive directions to stop, keeping a safe distance or sticking close to friends in a buddy system. Chronic bullying should always be reported to an adult at the school as well.

·         Know what your teen is up to online as well as what apps they frequent on their phone or tablet. Social media sites can be a fun way to share photos and keep up with family and friends, but they are also a hotspot for bullying. Let your teen know that you will be checking up on communication regularly and that access to these options is a privilege, not a right.

·         Take any report of your child being a bully seriously. Make sure your teen knows that you will not tolerate bullying in any form and be clear and consistent on the consequences for breaking the rules.

·         Teach your child empathy and practice what you preach. Your home environment should be a reflection of the values you want him to embrace. Respect and effective conflict management should be demonstrated on a regular basis.

As your teen grows, you may not be able to protect him from everything, as much as you want to. However, you can be a proactive force in making sure that he has a safe and supportive place to learn how to handle conflict with his peers as well as proper coping mechanisms.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment program specializing in helping troubled boys get their lives back on track. Contact us at 1-800 for a free consultation.

How To Deal With Your Teen That Bullies – Parenting Tips

How To Deal With Your Teen That Bullies – Parenting Tips

With the increasing campaigns in schools against bullying, more parents are likely to be concerned about their child being on the receiving end. Parents who discover that their child is bullying others are less likely to have the support of the school system, the sympathy of other parents or the variety of resources dedicated to helping them correct the problem. Although parents in this situation fall anywhere from denial to shame, their child is most likely exhibiting behaviors that are not their fault. Parents are only truly culpable when they do nothing to curb their child’s behavior.

If you are unsure of what to do with your bullying child, there are a number of things you can do to help him learn to interact with his peers in healthier way.

·         Keep an open mind – If you have received more than one report of your teen picking on others, there is probably something to the accusation. Talk calmly and rationally to the teacher or parents involved in order to get a clear idea of the incident before you approach your teen.

·         Talk openly - Your child may attempt to skew the story in his favor by claiming that he was ‘just teasing’ or joking around. If you believe this is true, treat it as an opportunity to discuss social cues as well as how their peers might not appreciate being teased. Your teen might need some practice in empathy and respect.  

·         Define the limits – Make your expectations regarding bullying very clear to your teen. He should know that bullying is not okay and you will not tolerate it. Reports of bullying should result in immediate action on your part. Let your child know that you will be working closely with the school or other institution involved to make sure that he behaves himself.

·         Provide consequences – The consequences for bullying should involve a meaningful penalty, such as a loss of valued privileges. When possible, give your teen the opportunity to make things right with the victim.

·         Set a good example – Make sure that you are maintaining a home environment that encourages nonviolent behavior and cooperative problem solving. Your teen learns more than you think by watching how you handle things on a day to day basis.

·         Positive reinforcement – Teens respond when their parents notice their efforts to handle conflict, show compassion and deal with emotions in a healthy way. Studies indicate that positive feedback is actually more effective than punishment, although parents should also be realistic and understand that it can take time to change certain behavior patterns.

·         Seek help – Your teen might be struggling with an issue that is causing him to act out. If the above methods aren’t working, it might be time to take your child to see a therapist or counselor that specializes in bullying behavior.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment facility that specializes in helping troubled boys. If your son could benefit from full time therapy and coaching, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-675-8101. 

What Makes Teens Become Bullies?

What Makes Teens Become Bullies

Bullying is when one individual is picked on repeatedly (either physically or emotionally) by a group or individual with more physical strength or greater social standing. While bullying has been a fairly consistent part of the adolescent cohort, mediums such as social media have taken it to a new level of severity, sparking nationwide anti-bullying campaigns.

At some point, most kids will experiment with how far they can push their peers; however, real bullying is consistent and targeted. In order to understand how to deal with bullies, we must consider the factors that create them in the first place.

·         Home Environment – Although any child can become a bully, researchers believe that the environment at home can lead to aggressive behavior at school. Teens experiencing inadequate supervision, parental conflict, neglect or some type of abuse are more likely to take their anger out on peers as a way to create control.

·         Stress – Extreme stress in teens can manifest by directing that stress at others. Even if their home life is secure, factors such as lack of friends or support network, academic pressure, physical appearance or even being victims of bullying can all allow teens to gain an artificial feeling of superiority and a sense of control over their surroundings.

·         Insecurity – Teens may pick on their peers because of pervasive insecurity. Harassing others might get them a laugh or impress their friends. Picking on others helps bullies secure their place in their social group and compensates for their low self-esteem.

·         Overconfidence – Overconfidence, the opposite of insecurity, can also be a factor in bullies. Being taller, smarter, better looking, richer or more popular can feed the feeling of superiority in some teens. Torturing those who rank lower on the social chain makes them feel powerful.

What Can I Do?

It can be emotionally devastating for any parent to discover that their child is being bullied and equally devastating when your child is the one consistently tormenting others. Open communication with your teen is very important during this stage. Whether your child is the bully or the bullied, keeping an eye on his electronic communication is important, as aggression via social media is extremely common. Report anything that is physically threatening or dangerous to both the school and the police. Consider therapy for your teen in order to either learn coping mechanisms for bullying or to determine what is causing the behavior in the first place. Under no circumstances should you ignore the behavior or assume that “all teens go through it” or “he’ll grow out of it.” Teens that bully need to find a more constructive way to vent their frustration, and teens who are bullied are at a greater risk for depression, anxiety or even substance abuse as a way to escape reality.

In some extreme cases, a full time residential treatment program can help give your son the temporary, full time care and coaching he needs in order to heal and move forward in a healthy way. Liahona Academy, located in southern Utah has specialized in helping boys struggling with the factors and effects of bullying since 2001. Our caring staff and experienced therapists can help your son turn his life around and become a happier individual. Call us today at 1-800-675-8101 for a free consultation. 

Bullying Has Changed – Cyberbullying

Bullying Has Changed – Cyberbullying

While bullying is a fairly timeless occurrence, the face of it has changed through the rise of modern technology. With the advances and availability of internet devices and social media, what used to only be accomplished face to face can now effortlessly reach victims wherever they are. Cyberbullying is the name given to this new trend and is defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology; including computers, cell phones and tablets through social media and other communication tools. The severity and pervasiveness of cyberbullying is of increasing concern, and national campaigns are being conducted to educate teens and their parents about the associated dangers and prevention techniques.

Teens who are cyberbullied are often persecuted in person as well, making them more vulnerable to the abuse. As long as they are plugged in, they can never escape the mistreatment, day or night. One of the most difficult things about cyberbullying is that messages and images can be posted anonymously, while quickly reaching a wide audience. In many cases, it can be difficult or impossible to trace the source or completely remove the harassment once it has been posted or sent. At best, teens who are cyberbullied are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, alcohol or drug abuse, poor grades and a variety of health problems. At worst, cyberbullying has been pinpointed as the culprit behind some teen suicides.  

How Do I Prevent Cyberbullying?

Protecting your teen from cyberbullying can be as simple as being aware of their online activities and monitoring other forms of communication, such as email and text. While the adolescent years are a valuable time to teach your child healthy boundaries and develop trust, there is no doubt that no teen should be given free, unsupervised reign of social media and internet use. Some of the specific things you can do as a parent are:

·         Discuss the sites that are and are not allowed with your teen. Know where they visit and how often. Educate yourself on what sites are popular among teens as well as how they are both used and abused.

·         Tell your teen that you reserve the right to review their online communication if you think there is a concern. In order to gain your trust, they need to disclose their passwords in case of need as well as staying away from banned sites. Parental control filters or monitoring programs can help you keep tabs on your teen’s activity, but should be considered an aid rather than a failsafe. While social media and cell phones can be a fun and convenient way for your teen to keep in touch and share events, they should be considered a privilege, not a right.

·         Encourage your kids to come to you if they or someone they know are being bullied online. Keep communication as open as possible and give them regular opportunities to confide any issues they may be having without fear of consequences.

·         Establish rules about the use of cell phones, computers and any other access to technology. In addition to safety measures, such as keeping their password secure, help your teen understand that what goes online is potentially there forever. Even sites that claim to “delete” material have a master database and images and messages are never truly gone.

·         Report cyberbullying to the proper authorities, depending on the content. Cyberbullying violates the terms of service with most social media sites and internet service providers. Threats of violence, sexually explicit messages or child pornography should be reported to the police as well as the school in order to address what may also be a physically hostile school environment. 

Is My Teen A Bully Or A Victim?

Is My Teen A Bully Or A Victim

As a parent, you want to protect your children from anything that causes them harm, as well as bad choices that can lead to long term consequences. Bullying or being bullied can cause damage to both children and teens and should be addressed by parents as soon as they are aware of it. How do you know if your child is at risk though? There are some characteristics and signs that might help parents determine if their child is at risk for bullying or being bullied.

Characteristics of Bullies

·         Do not feel a strong sense of empathy, or enjoy causing pain to others

·         Do not believe that the rules apply to them.

·         Show very little reaction when questioned about behavior.

·         Believe that victims deserve their treatment.

·         Resist direction or instruction from adults.

·         Small group of friends with average grades that decline as they grow.

Characteristics of Bullying Victims

·         Passive victims often have very few friends and rely on adults more than their peers for guidance and emotional support. They are insecure with very low self-esteem and rarely report attacks for fear of making things worse. They are not confident in their ability to defend themselves.

·         Provocative victims often appear to instigate conflict by irritating and pestering those around them.

Teens who are bullied display a variety of behaviors that can be seen as red flags for concerned parents. Coming home with torn clothing, physical injuries or destroyed property is a fairly obvious sign, but victims also may change their route to school or refuse to talk about their day. A drop in grades or a change of social groups may also be an indication. Bullying often strips victims of their confidence, leading them to extremes, either becoming withdrawn or more violent themselves as compensation. Parents can help their children safely stand up to bullies by teaching them to be assertive in both posture and eye contact. Help them come up with a plan of action for when they are most likely to be confronted. This can mean keeping a safe physical distance, using assertive wording to tell them to stop or keeping to the buddy system. Encourage your child to let an adult at school know, so they can help create a safer environment.  

Some parents do not want to believe that their child could be the one causing harm to his peers and therefore don’t take reports seriously. However, kids who bully need intervention to either address what is causing them to act out, or help them learn to handle conflict more effectively. Let your teen know that you will not tolerate bullying in any form and be clear and consistent on the consequences if it occurs. Spending more time with your teen and taking action to help him learn empathy is another way you can help him. Make sure that your home environment reflects the things you want your son to emulate, such as respect for others and good conflict management.

There are times when the effects of bullying or being bullied have taken too high of a toll on your son. In such cases, full time, supportive surroundings away from the usual environment may be what he needs in order to set himself back on a good path. Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center that teaches boys how to handle conflict and communicate with others in a healthy way. If you think your son could benefit from such a program, call us for a free consultation at 1-800-675-8101.

2014 Teenage Bullying Resources

Teenage Bullying Resources

The month of October we have seen so many great resources created or pointed out by some of the most influenctial anti-bullying organizaitons. The fight against bullying has changed over the last few years beacuse of the rise in cyberbullying. With so much happening online and on social media, teens have a new problem that they need help dealing with. We have gathered some of our favorite resources, take a look at some resources for teens struggling with bullying.

Related Articles From Liahona Academy

Bullying Prevention Month 2014 – Infographic

Take a look at some of the biggest campaigns and inititives against bullying in 2014

Share this Infographic On Your Site

Oppositional Defiant Disorder – Infographic

Do you wonder if your child has characteristics of an Oppositional Defiant Disorder child? Some symptoms can range from persistent anger issues to tantrums, uncooperative, hostile or annoying behaviors. Often times leading to arguments with people of authority or power. Learn more about Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the infographic below.

Share this Infographic On Your Site