Children being bullied is an important topic among parents these days. While the rates of bullying are not increasing, more study of the issue has led to a higher awareness of this public health problem. We dove into bullying in our October newsletter. Here, we’ll explain what steps parents can take to address bullying.
If Your Child is Bullied
In cases of bullying, children may not ask for help. One study indicated an adult was notified 40 percent of the time. Children who are bullied may not tell someone because they feel weak or feel like a tattletale. Others want to handle it on their own to regain control. They may fear backlash from the bully or fear further social isolation from peers.
To help your child, you must first determine if he or she is being bullied, but it’s best not to ask directly. You can ask about bullying at school in general. You can also ask about his/her friends, who he/she sits with at lunch or on the bus. Ask about kids who might leave your child out of activities or if anyone teases him/her in a mean way.
Parents and teachers must address bullying if it occurs, so if your child is being bullied, tell them you love them and want to help and that they can talk to you about any problems. Do not tell them to “let it go” or “suck it up.”
Next, speak with school officials, starting with the teacher. He or she knows more about what’s going on between students. If you don’t feel teachers are addressing the problem, you can speak to the principal.
In an interview with the American Psychological Association, bullying expert Susan Swearer said, “First, they must tell the student(s) who are doing the bullying to stop. They need to document what they saw and keep records of the bullying behaviors. Victims need to feel that they have a support network of kids and adults. Help the student who is being bullied feel connected to school and home. Students who are also being bullied might benefit from individual or group therapy in order to create a place where they can express their feelings openly.”
In other words, help your child identify groups he/she can turn to for help. You can also work with him or her on ways to deal with bullies. If you are worried your child is feeling depressed or socially isolated, speak to a counselor.
If You Think Your Child is the Bully
No one wants to think of their child as hurting others, but of course, we must consider that our children are not perfect. If your child is the bully, let your child know that bullying is harmful to others and can have legal consequences. Model positive behavior at home. Address and discipline any mean behavior. You may also have your child speak to a counselor or therapist who can help him/her figure out why they bully. Many children with low self-esteem bully to feel better about themselves.
Discuss bullying with your child’s pediatrician here at Generations Family Practice during your next visit or contact us for an appointment now.
We love this infographic from E-learning Inforgraphics about Bullying