According to StopBullying.gov, a bully is defined as a person who “use(s) their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others.” The Internet Age has made sure that even after the school day is over, the harassment does not stop. It can extend online, or even to text messages or phone calls. We are a small community, and committed to making sure our school is an environment where everyone can feel comfortable being themselves. Unfortunately, that does not mean we can protect our students at all times. A student who is being bullied may not be forthcoming with the fact it is occurring. What can you do as parents to help keep a lid on school bullying? We are thrilled you asked:
- Observe how they are acting. At one point your child was waiting in the car, excited to be going to school to see their friends. Now they drag their feet and make every excuse they can not to go. They are asking for more lunch money, even though every day they are coming home hungry. There are always some telltale signs that a change has occurred in school. Don’t be shy in asking why these changes are happening.
- Look for signs of injury or damage. Their favorite clothes or items may come up missing or broken. They may have bruises or be sore in places. These could be indications that someone is bullying them into giving them these goods, and getting physical when your child tries to say no.
- Bring it up casually. Many television shows and movies have plot lines where bullying in evident. Try to bring up the topic in a roundabout way and see how they react. Even if they are not being bullied, it is a good time to discuss with them what to do when they see it happening to a peer.
- Listen. Children do not come forward for a number of reasons. They may be embarrassed it is happening to them. They may have been threatened with reprisals if they went to someone in a position of authority. Be there to listen to them when they open up to you about it. They need to know you are there to help, however you can.
- Be an example. It is well known that children emulate the actions of their parents. When someone makes you angry, respond in as calm a way as you can. Do not yell and scream, but communicate your concerns. Showing the right way to handle conflict helps teach your children how to handle it.
- Discuss the situation with others. Being confrontational is not going to help anyone. We are always here to listen to any concerns you may have about what is going on in the academies. You can discuss it with the teachers, or other parents that may be involved in the situation.
- Give your child tools. The situation may not be resolved immediately, so your child may need a strategy to deal with it while it is.
- Don’t wander alone. Make sure you they are always in a group of friends around the school.
- Don’t react. Bullies are looking for the reaction. Help them practice not giving them one.
- Tell someone when it happens. Let them know that the sooner someone in a place of authority is notified, the better the change the situation can be resolved quickly.
- Talk to people. Your child needs to know that talking about it will help. Not only the people that want to see the bullying stopped, but the child will feel a little release.
Bullying is not just about the physical toll that it can take on a child. There can be mental health ramifications, including a loss of self-esteem or depression. It could affect a child’s grades if the child misses too much school or the bullying continues after classes are over. If the bullying goes on long enough, the child may do something harmful to themselves. As a community, keeping a vigilant eye out for bullies is another way to keep our children safe.
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