Bullying often behavior developed in home, health official says

Signs can begin as early as elementary school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An alarming number of students say they’ve been bullied at school.

Colleen Rodriguez, with Jewish Family and Community Service, said 25-33 percent of students report being bullied at school. That figure includes spreading rumors, name-calling and shoving.

Rodriguez said bullying is often a learned behavior that’s established in the home. Some children who bully others may have learned the abuse from their parents and then re-enact that behavior in school.

“Unfortunately, very often it is at home. So part of what we need to do as parents is to role model kindness and respect and acceptance,” Rodriguez said. “So often children that are perceived as different due to race or sexuality are the ones that are that are targeted.”

The signs can begin as early as elementary school. Rodriguez encourages parents to be mindful of how they speak to their child and those around them.

Rodriquez said whether your child is the bully or the victim, everyone suffers. Victims are prone to higher rates of suicide, and bullies are more prone to alcoholism and depression.

“It’s not just one group that suffers negatively from bullying, it’s everyone involved,” Rodriguez said.

Health officials say the following are signs of being bullied:

  • Personality changes
  • More quiet than normal
  • No longer around the same children
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns

Rodriguez said there is hope if a parent consistently makes an effort to teach their child a new behavior.
If you believe your child has been bullied, talk to them in a casual moment and ask open-ended questions.

For help, contact the Jewish Family and Community Services at (904) 448-1933. Rodriguez also encourages parents to contact a mental health therapist and notify their child's school.

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