When most people think of bullying, they think of physical violence and intimidation. While this is a serious aspect of bullying that should not be overlooked, it also not the only type of bullying that occurs. Emotional bullying, which involves degrading or threatening remarks, is also present in many schools and workplaces. If cases like these get serious enough, they can lead to major depression and even suicide. Because of this, it’s important to fight against emotional bullies to make schools safer. If you suspect your child is being emotionally bullied, there are a few things you can do to stop it or help your child cope with it.
1. Recognize the signs that someone you love is being emotionally bullied. When you send your child off to school, it can be hard to tell what’s going on when you’re not around. Sometimes children will tell their parents if they’re being bullied. However, more often than not, kids will try to hide the fact that they’re being bullied. The bully may have threatened to hurt them if they tell their parents, or your child just may be embarrassed about it. Even if your children don’t tell you about bullies, you can tell if they’re being bullied if they are excessively clingy or complain about stomach aches every morning before school. If you notice these signs, sit down and have a frank discussion with your child to see if he or she really is being bullied.
2. Teach your child how to respond to bullies. Fighting back will only make matters worse, and it could get your child in trouble with the school. Instead, teach your children to remain calm and remove themselves from the situation. They should also stay in large groups of kids they can trust to prevent future bullying situations.
3. Inform and involve other adults at the school. If your child is being bullied at school, you need to involve the other adults at the school that are involved with your child in any way. Adult intervention goes a long way in helping stop bullying. Your child’s teacher, bus driver, principal, or other school faculty should all work with you to help stop the bully. You can call them all to a meeting to discuss the problem and possible solutions. After that initial meeting, follow up with them frequently to check on their progress. Involve your child in this process, and ask him or her for a report on how things are going, so you can relate that to the teachers.
4. Make your home a safe haven. Many children are only able to get through being bullied without depression by having a safe and loving home environment. When things at school get really bad, children should at least be able to look forward to coming home each day. Keep your home clean and organized to reduce stress on your children, and greet them at the front door when they come home from school, if possible. Have dinner together as a family, and use this time to talk about their day at school so you can fully understand how your children are doing.
5. Engage your child in empathetic activities. Many children who are bullied respond to the bullying by becoming bullies themselves. One way to prevent this is to help your child develop empathy towards other people, especially other children. Work with your child to organize service projects in which you help the less fortunate. This will make it less likely that your child will seek healing by bullying others and more likely that he or she will stand up for other children if they are being bullied.
Even if your child is not coming home from school with bruises and other physical injuries, he or she may still be a victim of bullying. Emotional bullying causes emotional scars that can be hard to heal. Many cases of teen depression and suicide come about because of an emotional bully. However, if you know the signs of emotional bullying, you can work with your child and the adults at the school to stop bullying in all its forms and make the school a safer place for every child there.