Bullying: How a Parent Can Help
Bullying is an enormous problem in our schools. The impact of being bullied carries on far into adulthood. It is not something that you can just ignore and hope will go away. Many people think that kids need to get a thicker skin or toughen up; perhaps, these people have never been through the experience of being bullied. Kids have been known to get physically sick, refuse to go to school, have anxiety attacks, depression, suicidal and homicidal thoughts, all from bullying. As a parent what can you do for your child that is being bullied?
First of all, it is not your child's fault that they are being bullied. Bullies target kids for many reasons. It is important that you talk to your child about being bullied and respond to his/her needs. Ask your child what you can do to help? Sometimes kids are afraid to talk to their parents about this. They are often afraid getting their parents involved will make the situation worse. Or they think their parents will not care. Do not wait for your child to come to you about being bullied. If you notice signs such as frequently getting sick, not wanting to go to school, depression, aggression, or fits of anger or crying, your child may be having problems with a bully. Listen to your child about how he/she is feeling and work on a plan together on what to do about this.
Some strategies for handling bullies
- Ensure that your child's school has a program for handling bullies. If they do not have an anti bullying program encourage them to start one. If your school does not take your concerns seriously, talk to other parents, start petitions, or write letters to your state representatives. Parents can make a difference in how our schools handle bullies.
- Bullies often work in groups. This is the reason that they often get away with their behavior. Your child's peers may be bothered by the way that he/she is getting treated but ignore the situation for fear of being bullied too. Encourage your school to incorporate this into their anti bullying plan. Teaching kids how bullies work and how to help someone who is being bullied should be part of any good anti-bullying program.
- Help your child find a support system at school. Having a support system builds self-confidence and also keeps bullies away. Bullies usually will not take on an entire group of children but rather wait till a child is alone.
- Pick your child up from school or change the school bus route they ride on. Bullying often happens on school buses or on the walk home from school. It is much more difficult for schools to enforce bullying problems off of school property.
- If it is possible, you can try switching classrooms, switching the setting that your child is in, or in extreme cases switching schools. Sometimes once your child has been a victim of bullying other bullies will follow suit. Once a child has been singled out in a school it is sometimes hard for him/her to rebound. Of course, this is something you would want to talk to your child about first. Sometimes a fresh start in a new setting is all it takes.
Hopefully by talking to your child and your school system you can find a solution to handling your child's bullying situation.