Bullying is not a new phenomenon, but it recent years it has become much more frightening for children. Parents should always lookout for signs of bullying. The old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is untrue. Words can be daggers to someone else. We all know that bullying is a problem throughout the school year, but it can become a bigger problem at the end of the year when some children may seek revenge because they know they will not suffer the full consequences.
Bullying can have a devastating effect on the lives of children, their self-esteem, emotional well-being, and their health. As this school year draws to a close, I want to highlight some signs of bullying and list some steps you should take if you suspect your child is being bullied:
Lookout for extreme changes. Pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior regarding school, school work, and social activities. If you recognize radical differences in a negative direction, talk to your child and try to find out what is going on.
Take time to talk. Always keep the communications lines open between you and your child. Have an open door policy, where they can contact you whenever he or she really needs to talk. When spending time with your child on occasions, try to do more listening rather than talking. Develop a routine where you inquire about his or her day, friends, studies, and other concerns. Try to ask open-ended questions, which are not leading or suggestive such as:
(These are simple questions that will get your child talking)
- How was your day?
- Are you looking forward to the school-year ending?
- Are you looking forward to next school-year?
- What did you like most about this year, what did you like least?
- What would you have changed about this year?
If your child is being bullied tell him or her to:
- Stay calm.
- Tell the teachers and/ principal so they can also keep a close eye on your child and the bully as well.
- Encourage your child not to let the bully see him or her upset.
- If possible, teach your child to walk away.
- Encourage your child to have positive friends.
- Encourage your child to avoid being alone around the bully.
- Develop a plan of action or role play with your child.
If cyber bullying is occurring online, via text, email, or any other technical device investigate first. Try to find out what is being said and done. When applicable, alert teachers, try to meet with the bully’s parent/guardian, and alert other professionals such as the local police if physical harm is being attempted. If the teachers are not responsive and say, “There is nothing they can do,” contact the school superintendent, school board, etc. By now, schools should have an anti-bullying policy in place and if the school does not they should be encouraged to adopt one.
If your child is being cyber-bullied tell him or her to:
- Show a parent/adult. (The parent will save the message and seek other adults to limit future messages). This a good time to increase your positive affirmations regarding your child. Encourage him or her and highlight the positive attributes his or she possesses.
- Tell your child to stay calm.
- Don’t reply to cyber bully.
- Block the person from being able to contact him or her.
- If you child has been bullied, get him or her help to learn how to overcome the situation.
Lastly, if you child doesn’t have to attend the last day of school, don’t force him or her to be there. It is also important to be well aware of the bullying laws in your state. BullyPolice.org is a website that reports state bullying laws.