Over 25% of public schools report that bullying among students occurs on a daily basis. Also, one in five middle school students with Aspergers (high-functioning autism) report being bullied in the past 3 months.
The good news is that, since bullying has made national headlines, schools and communities – and even celebrities – are taking a strong anti-bullying stance. Parents can do their part at home, too.
- Bullies - and victims of bullying - have difficulty adjusting to their environments, both socially and psychologically.
- Bullies are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, and to be poorer students.
- Bullying occurs most frequently from sixth to eighth grade, with little variation between urban, suburban, town and rural areas.
- Females are more likely to be verbally or psychologically bullied.
- Males are more likely to be physically bullied.
- Males are more likely to be bullies - and victims of bullying - than females.
- Students who are both bullies - and recipients of bullying - tend to experience social isolation.
- Victims of bullying have greater difficulty making friends and are lonelier.
Here are 15 anti-bullying strategies to keep your Aspergers child from becoming a target – and to stop bullying that has already started:
1. Avoid the bully. There are some situations where bullying is worse because it is an ideal situation for a bully to go after their victim without any consequences. If there is no grown-up around, then he can bully without fear of getting caught. So, avoid these situations. For example, on the playground, stay where other kids can hear and where the playground monitor is around.
2. Buddy up for safety. Two or more friends standing at their lockers are less likely to be picked on than a youngster who is all alone. Remind your Aspie to use the buddy system when on the school bus, in the bathroom, or wherever bullies may lurk.
3. Confront the bully. Ask him why he is bullying you. Ask him what the problem is. Ask him to stop. Bullies are rarely asked to face the reality that they are being a bully, so make them face it.
4. Control your feelings. Bullies look for reactions, don’t give them one. Soon they will grow bored and move on.
5. Don’t bully back. It is good to say “stop it” – but don’t bully in return. You don’t want to be on the same level. Instead, tell someone that the bully is bullying you, and then do your best to ignore.
6. Don't try to fight the battle yourself. Sometimes talking to a bully's mom or dad can be constructive, but it's generally best to do so in a setting where a school official (e.g., a counselor) can mediate.
7. Make friends with one of the bigger guys in your school (some 8th graders, for example, may stand nearly 6 foot tall). Bullies are reluctant to go after someone who has backup. Bullies usually pick out the weakest person they can find, and there is strength in numbers. So, stop a bully by having a tall friend on hand most of the time.
8. Ignore bullies. A lot of what bullies do is for a reaction. They say or do things to see what you will do. If you want to stop a bully, just ignore their efforts, soon they will find someone else. Whether it is bullying online or in person, ignore, ignore, ignore.
9. Improve your self-esteem. Bullies usually pick on kids who have low self-esteem. They look for students who are weak, isolated, that feel alone, and have few friends. There is less chance of them being caught that way. Work on your self-esteem, and you won’t be picked on long.
10. Keep calm and carry on. If a bully strikes, a kid's best defense may be to remain calm, ignore hurtful remarks, tell the bully to stop, and simply walk away. Bullies thrive on hurting others. A youngster who isn't easily ruffled has a better chance of staying off a bully's radar.
11. Put on a brave face. When you let a bully know that you are afraid of him, it is like giving him power. If you give him a little power, you will find that the bullying gets worse. So, put on a brave face, and never show your fear.
12. Remove the bait. If it's lunch money or gadgets that the school bully is after, you can help neutralize the situation by encouraging your Aspie to pack a lunch or go to school gadget-free.
13. Report the bullying. Bullies can’t bully for long if they are getting caught. The beginning of getting a bully to stop has to start with an authority figure. So, each time someone bullies you, tell a grown-up. If it happens at school, tell a counselor, a teacher, or the principal.
14. Stand up for yourself when it gets really bad. If a bully is physically harming you, ruining your reputation, or something else, then don’t put up with it. Instead, say the words like, “Stop” or “Don’t” and make sure they know you are done taking their bullying.
15. Talk about it. Talk about bullying with your children and have other family members share their experiences. If one of your children opens up about being bullied, praise him for being brave enough to discuss it and offer unconditional support. Consult with the school to learn its policies and find out how staff and teachers can address the situation.