When discussing bullying, it is important to not feel helpless; there is indeed a lot that we can do to fight it. Parents can take several courses of action when their child becomes the victim of bullies. Help can come from many sources: from the school itself, from outside agencies, from the community, or even from law enforcement if needed.
The Many Forms of Bullying
Bullying comes in many forms, from verbal to physical. It is important to understand what to do in each case, and to know which resources to turn to when bullies victimize your child. In the best case scenario, vigilant parents who are aware at all times are able to handle the problem before it gets out of hand. One way to do that is to communicate with the school regularly, find out how you can be involved, and take an active role. But what if things go wrong anyway?
10 Tips on How Parents Can Fight Bullying
Here is a list of 10 tips on how parents can fight bullies, listing ways and resources that they can fight back when bullying occurs:
1) Join a PTO
Most schools do have an active PTO in their district. Find out if your child’s school does and join it. Inquire about when the meetings are held, and attend them regularly. By knowing what is going on at your child’s school, you will be better able to fight the problems. Take initiative. Build rapport with the staff, teachers, administrators, and other parents. Don’t assume the school is not going to do the right thing. Assume they will take care of bullying whenever it occurs. Don’t fight a battle that hasn’t been declared. Work together with the teachers and principals. Also, keep in mind that it is always best to have a positive outlook.
2) Start a Parents’ Advocacy Group
This is an outside group you could form, as a parent, which would be run by parents only. As aforementioned, it is important to stay positive and take initiative. Assume the school will do the right thing whenever bullying occurs, but have a plan in place, in case it doesn’t. There are many support groups which can offer advice, support, and strategies when bullying goes unpunished. It also helps to have a regular support group you speak to when times get hard. Just another voice to listen to any issues you may come across goes a long way to help in the coping process.
3) Visit your child’s school administrators
If there is an opportunity to talk one-on-one with your school administrators, this is a good way to get to know how they feel about bullying, how much will be tolerated, and the process that is involved when bullying occurs. It’s one thing to read the student manual or parents’ guide. However, it is another to sit down with the principal and have a heart-to-heart discussion about your child. This is especially helpful if your child has been bullied in the past and nothing has been done about it. If you make the administrators aware of previous problems, whether at this school or the one before, they will likely take a more proactive approach towards how things are handled in the future.
4) Attend anti bullying webinars or workshops
If there are any of these in your area, attend them. Merely hearing other stories can help you learn a lot. Many of the people presenting these seminars had first-hand experiences with bullying. They can offer helpful insight into why bullying takes place, what can be done about it, and what can be done to help your child in such situations. They often also offer literature that can be very useful in giving you extra insight into the strategies that should be used to overcome bullying.
5) Read books on bullying
The more you know, the more you can overcome the problem. Check out books from the library, read online articles, or borrow relevant books from the public library. Take notes on key points and try to apply them to your own situation and the school which your child attends.
6) Watch more videos; Learn about Cyberbullying
A good movie you should check out is “Cyber bullying,” which is currently available on Netflix. It is about a young girl who has her social media account hacked, and as a result, she suffers all sorts of problems when classmates believe what the bully writes on her Facebook wall. She is pushed to the brink of suicide in the final scene. Luckily, her friend comes forward, confessing that she has been the one who did all the bullying. This harrowing movie shows how bad cyber bullying is. Nevertheless, it is empowering, as it gives parents the adequate resources that might help them, should anything like that happen to their child. It also reminds parents of the dangers of allowing young people too much freedom on the internet. Overall, it is a cautionary tale about parent involvement and how important it is in a young person’s life.
7) Seek therapy for your child if needed
It cannot be stressed enough that bullying is NOT a victimless crime. It hurts, wounds, and damages the person it is inflicted upon. It is important for parents to follow up, even after the bully has been punished, and seek help for their child in order for them to move forward.
Often, children may not even indicate that they are still bothered by it. They might seem tough, that they have got over the incident. However, even after it is over, parents may see a sharp decline in their children’s grades, or notice a lack of interest in the hobbies they once loved, among other signs. If you notice any of these things, it is important to act quickly to address the aftermath of the bullying.
Kids who were bullied can be emotionally vulnerable. They could experience fear, despair, anger, hurt, among other negative feelings. They need to be told that it is alright to feel that way. They should also feel free to express these feelings, but in a safe context. Telling their feelings to friends, a counselor, parents, and teachers is fine. However, they should learn that lashing out at others in retaliation or anger is not okay. They should also be taught coping skills which will allow them to move on and try to put the ordeal behind them.
8) Talk about the future, not the past
When someone has been the victim of bullying, especially if it was an considerably hurtful experience, it can often be hard to move on. Try to talk to your children about positive events in the future, such as what college they want to attend, or the things they will do with their friends over summer break. Doing that may serve to help them move on and look forward to the future, rather than dwell on negative experiences in the past.
9) Encourage them to start a new hobby
Simple, right? If someone is having fun developing a new skill or hobby, it is hard to remember past mishaps. Help them look into taking up a new hobby, such as singing, drawing, or handcrafts such as beading or woodworking. Fine arts have shown to be an incredibly therapeutic way for young people to express themselves. It has often been effective with emotionally-disturbed kids, especially those who have been victims of abuse or bullying. Starting a new hobby may be just the thing they need to have a new outlook on life.
10) Encourage them to make new friends
One of the things someone can do if they had a bad social experience is to make a new friend or two. Encourage your child to find new friends and activities which allow them to broaden their horizons. They can prove to themselves that they can very well have positive social experiences! While they should choose such friends carefully, it is always good to begin by inviting the new friend over to meet them. This way, parents can be involved and know who their child is hanging out with and keep an eye on things. The key is to give your child enough freedom for them to feel that they can make good choices, while also keeping an eye on how things are going, so you can intervene if it becomes necessary.
Bullying is an epidemic that has spread in many countries all over the world. Parents can fight back by connecting to other parents, forming support groups, and joining PTOs. Getting involved means more than just knowing the rules. You have the right to protect your young ones from any type of bullying. Take a stand! Educate yourself, read all you can on the subject, attend seminars or webinars, and know what the laws are in your region or country.
By standing up to bullying, parents lead the way in the battle and make a statement that they will not tolerate this type of behavior towards their child. If all fails, seek legal help. Sometimes it takes a firmer stance to get something to be done about bullying. Parents of the bully must understand the consequences that can occur if their kids’ behavior continues or gets worse.
Lasting psychological and physical damage can occur with bullying, so it needs to be handled as quickly and efficiently as possible. Parents can also help with the problem by teaching their child how to handle a bully when they are approached with this type of situation.
If parents and teachers work together, they can create a fortress around kids, which will be difficult for a bully to penetrate. The key is to take action. Our kids depend on us to protect them from bullying and other negative social experiences.