The effects of bullying can be detrimental and long-lasting. As a parent, it is important to know what to look for, what you can do and how to help your child if they find themselves in a bullying situation.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is negative behavior that is typically repeated over and over. It is intended to cause harm, fear or distress. Bullying should always be taken seriously. Children who are bullied often experience social anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and depression. Severe bullying may lead to self-harm and suicide.
Types of Bullying
Physical: Hitting, shoving, damaging or stealing property
Verbal: Name calling, mocking, or making racist, or sexist remarks
Social: Excluding others from a group, spreading rumors or gossiping about them
Cyber: Using electronic means such as social media, cell phones, texting or email to make hurtful
comments or spread rumors that are intended to embarrass, exclude, or damage reputations or
Cyber bullying is becoming a huge problem. 58% of children report that they have had people say mean or hurtful things to them online. It is important for parents to be aware of how their child is using cellphones and the internet. Monitor your child’s social media sites, including what they are posting, including photos and messages they are sending. Talk to your child about internet/social media safety and set rules surrounding what is and is not acceptable and the consequences for breaking the rules.
Warning Signs to Watch For:
- Not wanting to attend school
- Not wanting to ride the school bus/asking for parents to give them a ride to school
- Excessive crying (especially in the morning)
- Unexplained headaches or stomachaches (especially in the morning)
- Changes in mood
- Changes in social interests (not wanting to see/play with friends)
- Changes in sleep (nightmares)
- Drop in grades
- Suddenly loses items such as electronics, toys or money, or gives explanations that don’t make sense as to why the object is gone or broken
My child is being bullied. What can I do?
Most importantly, your child needs to feel safe. Listen to your child’s concerns and let them know that the bullying is not OK and not their fault. Be patient. Not all children will want to discuss what happened right away. They may be afraid of retaliation from the bully or afraid of how you might react. Speak to parents and/or teachers who may be helpful in gathering information about the incidents. Try to remain calm.
How can I help my child deal with bullying?
Teach your children a simple 5-step approach to dealing with a bully:
- Ignore/minimize the bullying (“Ok,” “So,” “Whatever”)
- Tell the Bully to stop (“No,” “Stop It”)
- Walk away from the Bully
- Tell a teacher or adult that you are being bullied
- Be a friend to others who are being bullied
Encourage open communication with your child. If the bullying does not stop after your child has tried to handle it themselves, you may need to intervene further. Most schools have anti-bullying policies. Learn what they are and how to report bullying incidents. Speak to your child’s teacher or administration if necessary. Long-term bullying can have a negative impact on your child’s well-being. If your child doesn’t bounce back in their mood and behavior after being bullied or continues to be bullied despite taking the appropriate steps, it may be necessary to seek out the professional help of a counselor. A counselor can help your child to process their feelings and provide suggestions and guidance to the family.