Bullying is a horrible problem in schools at any stage. Babysittng.net recently addressed this issue, offering some great suggestions on how to protect kids from bullying. The site
notes that, ‘up to half of all children are bullied at some point during their school years, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.” Clues of bullying are varied and “some of the possible warning signs that your child might be a victim of bullying are if your child:
- Comes home with torn clothes.
- Is missing sweaters, jackets, school supplies, or other things repeatedly.
- Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches.
- Is afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, or riding the school bus.
- Suddenly begins to do poorly in school.
- Is sad, upset, angry, or depressed when she comes home.
- Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, being tired, or other physical ailments that would prevent her from going to school.
- Has few friends.
There are things parents can do to stop the bullying, the site notes, to help their child deal with the after effects, and stop future attacks, such as:
- Encourage your child to share her feelings. It’s important that your child has a safe place to talk about what’s happening and how she feels about it. When your child opens up, listen without dismissing her feelings (e.g. “Oh, you shouldn’t get so upset about what she says.”), without downplaying the incident (e.g. “Don’t listen to what that boy says. You’re beautiful just how you are!”) or without assuring her things will immediately change (e.g. “I’ll talk to your teacher and it will be OK.”) Offer empathy and support, let her know you’re on her side, remind her that she’s not to blame for what happened, and work with her to find a solution.
- Contact school administrators. You should report all bullying to your child’s school. Many schools have bullying policies already in place so you’ll have a good idea what to expect. Present as many details as you have and ask what actions will be taken. Make sure you follow up and stay up-to-date on how your complaint is being handled. Unfortunately not all principals and teachers take bullying seriously and you may have to be the squeaky wheel to get them to take meaningful action. If your child was physically attacked, talk to the school principal immediately to decide if the police should be involved.
- Model an honest yet appropriate response. Of course you’re going to be angry if your child is being bullied. Be honest with your child about how you’re feeling while letting her know that acting on anger, hurt, humiliation or other negative emotions doesn’t solve the problem. Put your energy into working with the school to stop the bullying behavior to ensure the bully is dealt with appropriately and to help your child deal with the emotional toll of bullying.
- Boost your child’s self-esteem. There’s no such thing as a bully-proof child, but kids that have high self-esteem, are part of supportive friendships, and are involved in activities they enjoy and are good at are much less susceptible to bullying. In today’s world there’s a group, team, or club for pretty much any activity your child is interested in. Sports, volunteering, music, performing arts, chess, gaming, or outdoor adventure can all help your child avoid or successfully deal with bullying. If her school doesn’t offer anything your child is interested in, look in your local community.
Parents can be empowered to help their kids deal with bullying and public awareness, prevention and progressive school policies are all helping alleviate the problem in schools.