Internet: Teasing and Bullying

by Judith Maginnis Kuster

Most people are teased about their "differences." Bright kids are teased about being "teacher's pet" or "curve-pushers." Kids with glasses are sometimes called "Four Eyes." Physical differences often bring out teasing, with names like "Bean Pole," "Shrimp," or "Fatty." Most of us remember being teased -- and that the teasing hurt.

According to Scholastic, "Teasing becomes bullying when it is repetitive or when there is a conscious intent to hurt another child. It can be verbal (making threats, name-calling), psychological (excluding children, spreading rumors), or physical (hitting, pushing, taking a child's possessions)." (www.scholastic.com/resources/article/bullying) The children in a speech-language clinician's caseload often endure teasing and bullying. Nine years ago, this column dealt with the issue of teasing ("Jeers and Tears: Teasing and Communication Disorders," Aug. 6, 2002). (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster4/part43.html)

Unfortunately, teasing and bullying have not stopped, and perhaps have become even more serious (see "Child Hurt: 6th-Grader Rushed to the Hospital" www.woio.com/Global/story.asp?S=14084140). Although several resources cited in my earlier column have disappeared, those still online are worth reviewing, and additional Internet resources are now available to help reduce teasing and bullying and to give clients ideas for dealing with them.

Identification

To deal with teasing and bullying, one must first know that it is happening. Connie Dugan created a "Teasing Inventory" (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster2/therapy/teasinginventory.html) that can be used weekly to provide a quick insight into what is happening in a child's life. A more extensive survey [PDF] by Judy Freedman also is available (www.easingtheteasing.com/images/teasingsurvey.pdf).

Helping Children Deal With Teasing and Bullying

Information for Adults

Bullying in Cyberspace

Finally, the "dark side" of the Internet includes a phenomenon that is unknown to most adults - cyberbullying. It is estimated that a third of the teens online (ages 12-17) have experienced bullying via Internet technology. NetSmartz, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, offers excellent information about cyberbullying (www.netsmartz.org/Cyberbullying_.


Judith Maginnis Kuster, MS, CCC-SLP, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at judith.kuster@mnsu.edu. An archive of all of Kuster's columns can be found at www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster4/leader.html. URLs change; there is no guarantee that links from previous columns are still functional.

cite as: Kuster, J. M. (2011, June 7). Internet: Teasing and Bullying. The ASHA Leader.