Is Your Child Really Being Bullied? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Is Your Child Really Being Bullied?

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Bullying... It's a word we are hearing a lot lately. 

But, is it the best word to describe what many kids are facing while at school?

Some, QCA professionals are saying no.

They say it really comes down to two different words, bulling AND conflict. 

Bullying is an action where one person tries to dominate another, through physical or mental abuse. What makes it bullying is when the victim doesn't do anything about it, because they don't think anything they do will stop what's going on. 

One the other hand, conflict is when one person tries to dominate, but the victim fights back. 

With the word bullying becoming so popular, professionals say knowing the difference is more important than ever. 

"Me calling you a name and you calling me a name back... We aren't mutually bullying one another. We are in a disagreement," says Pleasant Valley High School Counselor Valerie Tucker. 

Tucker has been working with high school kids for over 10 years, seeing conflicts and kids butting heads first hand. 

"I think kids are becoming desensitized to the word bullying," she explains. "They know if they use it, the adults will jump in and maybe be their defender."

But the biggest difference between a conflict and a true bullying situation Tucker says, is a bullying victim doesn't want to talk about it.

"A victim of bullying usually feels they are powerless to do anything about it. Telling somebody about it increases the embarrassment they feel over not being able to defend themselves."

Dr. Sam Moreno, a clinical psychologist at the Robert Young Center, agrees. 

"When children are younger, they have conflict and they are friends the next day. When they are in middle school or high school, that conflict may persist and you want to see, are things getting better with that person? Or are they staying that way?" he explains.

So, how can you, as a parent, tell a difference between just a spat between kids, and genuine bullying? 

The biggest things, professionals say, is to ask questions. Try to find out all of the facts around a particular incident. 

And how your child is responding.

"Do they appear depressed, do they appear anxious?" Dr. Moreno asks. "Are they reluctant to engage is social activity?"

All of those things could be signs of bullying, instead of a conflict.

And Tucker says if those signs are showing up, it may be time for a parent of teacher to help out.

"If your child is more angry of frustrated, if they are hurt or withdrawn, if they don't want to go to school to avoid a certain person, absolutely step in."

But, if not, they say it may be time to just let kids, be kids. 

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