What to Do when your Child is being Bullied
When someone bullies your child, you hurt because your child hurts. You may also be angry and want revenge against the people who hurt your child. You may think karate lessons are the answer. You may want to call the mean kid’s parents in anger. The best thing you can do when you find out your child is being bullied is to support your child. Then take a deep breath, calm yourself, and come up with an effective plan on How to Stop Your Child from Being Bullied.
Bullyingstatistics.org reports that victims of bullying “are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims,” according to studies by Yale University. According to statistics reported by ABC News, “nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.” There comes the need for you to understand How to Stop Your Child from Being Bullied.
This article will tell you about the four kinds of bullying, why bullies bully, signs that your child is being bullied, the actions you can take when your child is the victim of bullying, some methods for dealing with cyber bullying, and information about the much needed increase in bullying awareness and eventually you will know How to Stop Your Child from Being Bullied.
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied: Understand What is Bullying!
According to stopbullying.gov, bullying is “is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”
Bullying has three main characteristics: imbalance of power, intent to cause harm, and repetition.
While physical bullying is what most people think of when they think of bullying, there are actually four types of bullying: verbal, social, physical, and cyber.
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied Verbally: Verbal bullying is using mean words either said or written.
- Your child is teased for being different
- Your child is called names
- Your daughter is leered at and told her top fits nice and tight
- Your very smart son is told he will be beaten after school if he doesn’t do another child’s homework
- Your child receives a note in class with a drawing of a pig with her name written across the top
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied Socially: Social bullying is harming someone’s reputation.
- Someone writes a nasty comment about your child on a stall in the bathroom
- Someone starts a rumor that your child is doing drugs or was seen engaging in a sexual act with another child
- Your child’s friend tells her not to be friends with another child; here the other child is being bullied, but your child is victimized by being caught in the middle
- Your child sits at a table in the lunchroom and the other children refuse to talk to him, or worse, get up and move to another table
- Someone tries to embarrass your child
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied Physically: Physical bullying is hurting a person or damaging a person’s belongings.
- Your child is hit, slapped, spit on, kicked, tripped, pushed, or groped
- Your child’s laptop is thrown to the ground and breaks
- Your child receives rude hand gestures as he walks down the school hallway
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied Online: Cyber bullying is using the Internet or other electronic technology to bully
- Someone posts damaging comments about your child on Facebook
- Your child receives mean text messages
- Someone posts rude cartoons on your child’s Facebook timeline
- Someone sneaks unflattering pictures of your child with his cell phone and posts them online
- Someone pretends to be someone else online to hurt your child
The story of Canadian teen Amanda Todd dramatically illustrates not only the impact of teen bullying, but also how difficult it can be to stop it. Amanda’s bullying began in 7th grade as a result of flashing her breasts when a man convinced her to do so online. The man took a screen shot and used the photo to torment Amanda for years. What is shocking is the reaction of her classmates. Rather than offer support, they too, became her tormentors. In an effort to escape her bullies, Amanda changed schools and found new friends, but her tormentors followed her to her new school and beat her up there. Amanda changed schools two more times, but the bullying continued, both online and off. Despite involvement of the school principal and teachers, Amanda spiraled into depression and substance abuse. She posted a cry-for-help video (which has since gone viral) on YouTube shortly before she took her own life. Shockingly, the bullying didn’t stop when she died with taunts and threats continuing online, including some mean comments on the YouTube page where her video is posted. Amanda’s case is not one of a completely innocent victim, but she did not deserve the torture she endured for years after a single lapse in judgment.
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied
One wonders if Amanda’s tormentors wanted her to end her life. Why do bullies bully?
- Kids bully when they didn’t learn the social skills to work on their problems and get along with people as they stumbled their way through adolescence. It’s easy to blame the parents because bullying often starts in the home, but that’s not always the case.
- Kids don’t mean to bully — they believe their actions are funny.
- Kids bully because they don’t get attention at home.
- Kids who are bullied by older siblings tend to bully others.
- Kids bully first because they believe it will stop them from being bullied.
- Kids who are friends with bullies may bully to fit in.
- Kids have emotional problems or mental health issues.
- Some kids are just plain mean.
While you hope your child will tell you if he or she is being bullied, it’s important to know the warning signs.
Education.com lists these bullying warning signs. Watch out if your child:
- Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
- Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
- Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
- Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
- Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school
- Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
- Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
- Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
- Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
- Experiences a loss of appetite
- Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem
If you suspect your child is being bullied, talk to your child about it and learn about How to Stop Your Child from Being Bullied.
What to Do when your Child is being Bullied
While most bullying occurs in the school building, bullying also occurs in the playground, during sports practice or physical education classes, on the school bus, on the walk or bike ride to and from school, on school field trips, and online. Play detective and find out who should take responsibility for putting an end to the bullying. Enlist the help of as many people as you can. Your child needs a lot of support and you need to learn How to Stop Your Child from Being Bullied.
- Do not tell your child to toughen up or that bullying is just a part of growing up.
- Do talk to you child. Kids are often embarrassed to talk about being bullied. They feel ashamed or that it is their fault that they are being bullied. They also fear that their parents will overreact. They also don’t know the difference between reporting (telling to keep someone safe) and tattling (telling to get someone in trouble) and fear retaliation if they are seen as tattletales. Brainstorm with your child about what actions might work. Teach your child to be appropriately assertive. Suggest that your child walk in a group since bullies tend to zero in on children who are by themselves.
- Let your child know that some people are just mean. Your child will encounter mean people throughout his or her life and that mean people’s behavior has nothing to do with who your child is as a person.
- Get counseling for your child. You may not be able to change the bully, but you can get your child coping skills so he or she can be okay.
- Find out about your state’s bullying laws and policies here.
- Involve the police if the bullying is affecting your child’s safety or mental health.
- Talk to your child’s teacher about what he or she has observed and about what can be done to keep your child from being bullied at school. Involve the principal, the school counselor, the school board, or even the city council. Keep going until you get results. Find out if the school has a bullying policy and if so, what is being done to enforce it. If the bullying happened on the school bus or on a field trip, involve the bus driver or the field trip chaperones.
- Do not talk to the bully’s parents. This rarely results in a positive resolution since some bullies learn it at home or bully because they are acting out because their home life is dysfunctional.
It’s hard enough when a child is the victim of bullying in real life. With personal computers, tablets, and smart phones came a new form of bullying: cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is so pervasive that it deserves its own section.
- Download The National Crime Prevention Organization’s Stop Cyberbullyling Before it Starts guide.
- Teach your teen how to block bullies online and how to delete messages without reading them.
- Teach your teen to have friends on Facebook and other social networking sites that they know in real life and that they like. Tell your teen to defriend or block people who are mean to them online.
- Report incidents of online bullying to your Internet service provider and to the specific web site where the online bullying is taking place.
- Know your children’s passwords. Have the understanding that you will not snoop, but will access their accounts to ensure they are safe online.
- Tell your children not to respond to any cyber bullying, but to keep and print out the messages including the email addresses or screen names of the bully in case you need to involve law enforcement. Always notify the police if your child is threatened online.
- Consider keeping the computer in a common area of the house and setting limits on usage. Nothing good happens online after about 10pm anyway.
- Don’t punish your child by taking away the computer or blaming him or her if bullying happens. You want your child to continue to come to you when there is a problem. Remember, your child is a victim and needs your support.
- Don’t assume your child knows about Internet safety. Have the conversation about Internet safety with your child.
Bullying had gotten a lot of press. As the issue gains much needed awareness, organizations are developing to stop bullying and schools and governments are developing policies and legislation.
Schools, states, and the federal government understand finally how serious the problem of bullying is. You can buy a STOMP Out Bullying wristband, participate in International STAND UP to Bullying Day, and wear a pink shirt or a blue shirt depending on which anti-bullying day you support. The United States government has taken action against bullying forming the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus (CABC) and President Obama endorsed two anti-bullying bills, the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. The Bully Project screens its film (watch the trailer here), Bully, for kids, parents, teachers, and advocates to build a national movement to end bullying.