10 Ways Parents Can Prevent Bullying
Recent events have revealed just how rampant and cruel the bullying problem has become. The days of letting kids work things out by themselves or encouraging them to hash things out by the playground are long gone, as these strategies are proving to be much more dangerous than they once were. One thing is certain — parents play a huge role in the school bullying solution. Whether your kid is the aggressor or the victim, your words and support may be the most important tools in solving the problem. Here are 10 ways parents can prevent bullying:
- Talk to Your Kids: You may talk to your kids about homework, grades and school activities every day, but there are bigger issues happening in school that deserve to be discussed, as well. Bullying is a serious topic that parents and kids seem to skirt over far too often. An effective way to prevent bullying is to talk to your children about bullying. Depending on your relationship with your child and their willingness to share, you may have to wait until they approach you instead of prying information out of them. It takes a great deal of courage for your child to tell you that he or she is being bullied, so it’s important that you take it seriously and keep your emotions in check. Reiterate to your child that you want to help end the bullying and prevent it from happening again. Don’t hold back from asking your son or daughter who was involved, how it happened, and where each bullying incident has taken place. The more details you can obtain about the bullying episodes, the greater the chance of putting an end to the abuse when you contact school officials.
- Listen to Your Kids: Once you’ve established an open line of communication with your child, it’s so important that you listen intently to what he or she is saying. Listen to the details of your child’s bullying episodes so you can report these facts to school officials. Bullying is a sensitive subject for both the child and parent. You may be tempted to lash out at the bully’s parents or give the school a piece of your mind, but this irrational behavior could make matters worse. Before jumping to action, allow your child to share his or her experiences and simply listen. If your kid hasn’t opened up about being bullied or bullying others, give them a chance to tell you first, but always keep your ears open for anything that’s out of the norm or worrisome.
- Look for Signs: Children of all ages have a way of keeping things from their parents, especially when they are being bullied. Your son or daughter may hold back from telling you because they are embarrassed, don’t want to be a "tattletale" or are afraid that you might intervene and make it worse. If you think something could be wrong but your child’s lips are sealed, you should be on the lookout for signs of bullying. You may not necessarily see your child crying or sulking, but there are almost always signs that something is wrong. Victims of bullying often display signs of depression, loneliness and feel sick more than ever. Be observant of any unusual behavior, attitude changes and avoidance of social activities, and gently approach your child about these issues to see if bullying is the cause.
- Stop Bullying in Progress: Many adults stay out of bullying incidents because they want kids to work it out together. The problem is kids usually don’t work things out and the bullying only continues to get worse when left alone. Parents can’t be afraid to stop bullying incidents in progress and break things up. Even children can prevent or stop bullying incidents in progress by verbally or physically defending the victim and displaying their moral engagement. Intervening in a bullying incident gives parents a chance to set things straight with both children and protect the victim from further harm. Most bullying incidents take place after school, so a parent might be able to observe a confrontation at this time. Parents should encourage their kids to stop bullying in progress, whether they interject or get a school official to. No one should turn their back on a bullying incident. Period.
- Do Not Encourage Physical Retaliation: Never encourage physical retaliation as a means to prevent bullying. No matter how mad you are that your child has been bullied, you can’t fight abuse with abuse. Not only does fighting completely contradict this moral lesson, but it could also get your son or daughter suspended, expelled or make the situation worse. Teach your child to ignore bullies and walk away before anyone gets physical, then report the event to a school official or someone of authority.
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This post was modified from its original form on 18 Nov, 8:44
If left unchecked, bullies get the message that adults find mean behavior acceptable and the problem may get worse and involve more kids. By creating open lines of communication and support networks at home and school, teachers, parents and students can work together to create a safer environment for all kids.
Bullying generally happens when adults aren’t around in the halls, at recess, and after school. And kids often don’t talk about it. Sometimes kids are afraid it will get worse if adults are involved, or they keep quiet thinking their parents will be disappointed because other kids don’t seem to like them. Or they think they might be blamed somehow. This makes it even more important for parents to pay attention to clues that a child might be a victim of bullying.
If you think your child might be experiencing bullying, these are the signs to watch for (adapted from a Department of State Health Services guide).
Your child exhibits the following signs:
- Comes home with dirty, torn, or wet clothes or “loses” things without being able to explain what happened
- Has unexplained bruises, cuts and scratches, or other injuries
- Loses interest in school and gets poor grades
- Does not bring friends home or visit with friends after school
- Seems afraid or refuses to go to school
- Takes an “illogical” route to school
- Seems unhappy, downhearted, depressed or moody, or has sudden outbursts of anger
- Eats poorly or complains of headaches or stomachaches
- Sleeps poorly, cries out in his sleep or has nightmares
- Asks for extra money (because a bully is demanding it)