Tag Archives: Bullying

Cyberbullying for Kids

By Ritu Chandra, MD

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children and includes  behaviors that focus on making someone else feel inadequate, or focus on belittling someone else and is done with the intention of bringing another person down. There are different kinds of bullying: physical, social, verbal, cyber.


Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology, including devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Why Cyberbullying is Different

-Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night and even during the summer vacation. It is hard to get away from the behavior.

-Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience.

-It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.

-Completely deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

Effects of Cyberbullying 

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, skip school, experience in-person bullying, be unwilling to attend school, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem, and have more health problems.

Real Examples of Cyberbullying for Kids

  • A kid in Pennsylvania committed suicide because he was called a ‘freak’ and was told that no one liked him.Cyber bullying for kids
  • A kid jumped off a bridge because his homosexual sexual encounter video was posted online.
  • An OH girl sexted a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he posted this photo on social media sites and then the entire school started calling her names; she hung herself in her closet. This is called ‘Revenge Porn.’

Why children do not seek help?

-No language or framework, feel alone, fear of retaliation, think others may not believe them, parents or teachers may not know what to do

Prevent Cyberbullying for Kids

Parents and kids can prevent cyberbullying. Together, they can explore safe ways to use technology.

  • Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.
  • Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online- know the sites your kids visit and their online activities, ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
  • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.
  • Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.Cyberb
  • Have a sense of what they do online and in texts.
  • Learn about the sites they like.
  • Try out the devices they use.
  • Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied.
  • Explain that you will NOT take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.


Establish Rules about Technology Use

  • Be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.
  • Set a strong password.
  • Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Once something is posted, it is out of their control whether someone else will forward it.
  • Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Should complete strangers see it? Real friends only? Friends of friends? Think about how people who aren’t friends could use it.
  • Tell kids to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends. Sharing passwords can compromise their control over their online identities and activities.


Steps to Take ImmediatelyCyberbullying for kids 1

  • ALWAYS TELL. The most important thing is that you tell someone about the bullying. “A problem shared is a problem halved.” If possible, this should be an adult that you trust.
  • Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
  • Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Block the person who is cyberbullying.
  • Change the phone number or online ID of your child

Report Cyberbullying to Online Service Providers

-Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers and it should be reported so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.

  Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement

Cyberbullying for kids should be reported to law enforcement officials in cases of threats of violence, child pornography, sending sexually explicit messages or photos, talking and hate crimes.

Report Cyberbullying to Schools

Cyberbullying can create a disruptive/hostile environment at school and is often related to in-person bullying. The school can use the information to help inform prevention and response strategies.

Dr. Ritu Chandra is the founder of Preferred Medical Group. She is a board-certified pediatrician, and school related-problems, such as bullying is a special area of interest.

Helping your child to effectively handle bullying

By Ritu Chandra, M.D.

This blog is part two in a two-part series about bullying. You can read the first part here, which describes the definition of bullying and warning signs that you may see if your child is either being bullied or bullying others. This week, we will discuss the harmful, long-term effects of bullying as well as actions that parents can take to help their child understand, prevent or stop this behavior from occurring.
Black and white picture of an upset boy against a wall

 Effects of Bullying

Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes, including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.

 Kids Who are Bullied 

Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

 Kids Who Bully Others 

Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
  • Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults


Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:

  • Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Miss or skip school

Prevent Bullying

Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.

 Educate About Bullying

Training school staff and students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time. I have personally done numerous staff training workshops for school staff at the beginning of the school year. I have also made presentations on bullying to several PTAs to address this very important issue.

Activities to Teach Students About Bullying

Schools don’t always need formal programs to help students learn about bullying prevention. Schools can incorporate the topic of bullying prevention into everyday lessons and activities. Examples of activities to teach about bulling include:

  • Internet or library research, such as looking up types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how kids should respond
  • Presentations, such as a speech or role-play on stopping bullying
  • Discussions about topics such as reporting bullying
  • Creative writing, such as a poem speaking out against bullying or a story or skit teaching bystanders how to help
  • Artistic works, such as a collage about respect or the effects of bullying
  • Classroom meetings to talk about peer relations

 How to Talk About Bullying

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can:

 Help Kids Understand Bullying

Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.

  • Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens.
  • Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away.
  • Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
  • Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.

Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting kids. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to encourage kids to answer them honestly. Assure kids that they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise. Start conversations about bullying with questions like these:

  • What does “bullying” mean to you?
  • Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
  • Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
  • Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
  • What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
  • Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
  • What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
  • Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?

 Support Kids Who are Bullied 

  • Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help.
    Bullying Photo Part 1 parents and daughter
  • Assure the child that bullying is not their fault. 
  • Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.
  • Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again.
  • Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and school or organization may all have valuable input. It may help to:
  • Ask the child who is being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. Remember that changes to routine should be minimized. He or she is not at fault and should not be singled out. For example, consider rearranging classroom or bus seating plans for everyone. If bigger moves are necessary, such as switching classrooms or bus routes, the child who is bullied should not be forced to change.
  • Develop a game plan. Maintain open communication between schools, organizations, and parents. Discuss the steps that are taken and the limitations around what can be done based on policies and laws. Remember, the law does not allow school personnel to discuss discipline, consequences, or services given to other children.
  • Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child.

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Never tell the child to ignore the bullying.
  • Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied.
  • Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled.
  • Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.

Follow-up. Show a commitment to making bullying stop. Because bullying is behavior that repeats or has the potential to be repeated, it takes consistent effort to ensure that it stops.

 Avoid strategies that don’t work or have negative consequences.

  • Zero tolerance or “three strikes, you’re out” strategies don’t work. Suspending or expelling students who bully does not reduce bullying behavior. Students and teachers may be less likely to report and address bullying if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.
  • Conflict resolution and peer mediation don’t work for bullying. Bullying is not a conflict between people of equal power who share equal blame. Facing those who have bullied may further upset kids who have been bullied.
  • Group treatment for students who bully doesn’t work. Group members tend to reinforce bullying behavior in each other.

 Follow-up. After the bullying issue is resolved, continue finding ways to help the child who bullied to understand how what they do affects other people. For example, praise acts of kindness or talk about what it means to be a good friend.

 Dr. Ritu Chandra is the founder of Preferred Medical Group, with locations at Phenix City Children’s and Fort Mitchell Clinic. She is a board-certified pediatrician and specializes in ADHD, asthma, and school-related problems.



 What is bullying? Recognizing signs and symptoms in your child

By: Ritu Chandra, M.D.

In the past year, I saw more than a dozen real-life cases of bullying in my own practice, which were certainly not obvious to parents or even medical professionals at first glance. Reported symptoms ranged from intractable headaches, poor school performance, chest pain, throat pain, and hives. In each of these instances, families wanted referrals to specialists for everything from a cardiology workup, ADHD treatment, ENT evaluation, and allergy testing.

Case Study

One particular 10-year-old- came in as a new patient and reported having pain in her abdomen for almost a year. The previous pediatrician had done a long battery of tests, including x-rays, ultrasound and blood tests and had been treating the child with medicines, but the child was continuing to have abdominal pain. Hence, the parents were frustrated and seeking a new pediatrician.

I got a detailed history from the parents, and then I talked to the child alone. She said she looked forward to the weekends and reported that she did not feel pain on non-school days. I then asked direct questions about her classmates and friends, and it became apparent that she was being bullied at school. When I told the parents about the etiology of the abdominal pain, they were shocked! We were able to report the bullying to the school, and it was handled; within a few weeks, this child’s abdominal pain vanished and she is not on medication any more.

Cases such as this demonstrate how prevalent, how severe and devastating bullying can be for today’s children. In some cases the child realized that he/she was being bullied but was too embarrassed to talk about it; in other cases, the child had no framework or words for it and did not realize that he/she was experiencing bullying.

So, what is Bullying?

 Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and kids who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

Bullying may be caused by unintentional mean acts or the acts may be clear-cut, intentional cruelty.

3 Types

Bullying Definitions Chart

Where and When Bullying Happens 

Bullying can occur during or after school hours. Most often, bullying occurs in locations where there is least adult supervision e.g. the playground, cafeteria, library, bathrooms.  It can also happen while travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or online.

 The Roles Kids Play

There are many roles that kids can play. Kids can bully others, they can be bullied, or they may witness bullying. When kids are involved in bullying, they often play more than one role. Sometimes kids may both be bullied and bully others or they may witness other kids being bullied. It is important to understand the multiple roles kids play in order to effectively prevent and respond to bullying.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

 Why Cyberbullying is Different

Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.

  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

 Warning Signs 

There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.

 Signs a Child is Being Bullied 

Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.

Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:

  • 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 a Child is Bullying Others 

Kids may be bullying others if they:

  • 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

 Why don’t kids ask for help? 

Statistics show that bullying was reported to an adult in only about a third of cases. Kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:

    • Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
    • Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
    • Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
    • Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.
    • Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.Bullying photo Part 1


When adults remain unaware of bullying, they are not able to offer support, encouragement and help to stop the bullying behavior. Therefore, it is important that
parents remain watchful of the aforementioned warning signs to cut bullying off at an early stage.

  Parental awareness about bullying and helping children to understand what bullying is and how to develop a course of action for preventing or stopping the behavior is crucial. The effects of bullying can be devastating for children of all ages. Next week, we will examine some of the effects of long-term bullying for the victims and the bullies as well as some ways that parents can help their children with this issue.

Dr. Ritu Chandra is the founder of Preferred Medical Group, with locations at Phenix City Children’s and Fort Mitchell Clinic. She is a board-certified pediatrician and specializes in ADHD, asthma, and school-related problems.



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