Unfortunately, bullying in schools has become a frequent occurrence among students in our schools today. Many students do not realize the harm it causes. Bullying is intentional tormenting whether physically, verbally or psychologically. It can be in the form of threats, name calling or even physical violence. Some bullies will shun others or spread rumors about a fellow student making that person the laughing stock of the school. They can even use social media to taunt them or hurt their feelings.
It is very important to take bullying in schools seriously. It cannot just be swept under the rug with parents or adults believing that “it’s just kids” or that they should “tough it out.” The effect of kids getting bullied in schools can be serious and dangerous. They start to lose their sense of safety and self-worth. Sadly, in more severe causes of bullying in schools, it can lead to tragic events such as school shootings or suicide.
As a parent, one should look out for signs of bullying impacting their child, as either the victim or the perpetrator. This way, parents can take the right steps in order to help their child manage the bullying. Warning signs a child is being bullied can include: acting differently out of the blue, seeming anxious, not sleeping well, isolation, and avoidance of routine activities such as riding the school bus or heading out to play with friends. All children should know that if they are bullied they can and should open up to their parents (or school counselor, etc.) in order to seek the help they need so it doesn’t continue or become worse. Below are steps that parents can use to help their child when their child is experiencing bullying in schools.
Steps to Address Bullying in Schools
Be Aware of Bullying in Schools
There are different characteristics of bullying in schools. These characteristics can help one be aware of the bullying, if any. Bullies usually show greater physical strength than their victims, perform a repetition of the bullying they are doing, intend to harm others, create anxiety and fear in those they are bullying and are secretive about their acts, keeping it from parents and teachers. Bullies also often threaten their victims with further repercussions if they tell. Parents need to be in tune with their children and vigilant when they come from from school about how they are behaving. If anything changes from the norm, this could very well be a sign that something more is going on in school.
Tell an Adult about the Bullying
The initial step when helping a child cope with bullying is the parent first going to speak with the teacher or school guidance counselor to express their concerns. In most cases, this is sufficient. ‘Bullying’ is a term that describes a wide range of situations. There are factors to be considered such as the age of those involved, the severity of the situation and the specific type of bullying behaviors. Once the school is notified, as well as the type of bullying being addressed, steps can be taken to prevent it from continuing further.
Avoid the Bully and Use the Buddy System
The buddy system means that if the child is in the same area as the bully, they should leave and remove themselves from potentially being seen and bullied. They should also make sure to have a friend with them so that they are not alone. ‘Buddy’ up with a friend at all times, even on the bus. But remind them to always offer their buddy or friend help in return if they are ever in a similar situation.
Hold the Anger and Ignore the Bully
Bullies thrive when those they are bullying in school get upset and angry. They feed off of it and feel more powerful. A child should practice not reacting to the bullying. Even so, this may be hard to do in the beginning, but with practice will be a useful tool in keeping themselves off the bully’s radar. Strategies that can help kids practice keeping their cool practice include counting to 10, deep breathing, or writing down their anger and frustrations. Teaching kids to maintain a poker face until the bully walks away will be very beneficial.
A child can and should also learn to firmly tell the bully to ‘stop’ and casually walk away. By ignoring the bully, the victim will be taking away the bully’s power and can hopefully, along with some of the other tips and techniques, put an end to this situation.
Talk Freely About it
Children should know they have someone they can talk to and trust when it comes to bullying in schools. This someone can be a parent, school counselor, teacher, friend – anyone they feel comfortable speaking freely to. Talking cannot heal the issue, but it can help the child feel less alone and come up with strategies or a plan to extricate themselves from the bullying situation.
Request a Parent Conference
When a parent suspects or even knows there is bullying between their child and the bully, they should request a parent conference with the school. The best way to go about it is calmly, but to show the teacher, counselor and even principle during the conference that they are serious about these acts against their child and how much harm it is physically and emotionally causing them. From the parent conference, they may even be able to bring in the parent(s) of the bully which could help the situation more.
Is Bullying Illegal?
Yes, bullying may come across as a “disability harassment” when it comes to legal matters. This is because many times, bullying is towards children with disabilities and/or special needs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the disability harassment is “intimidation or abusive behavior towards a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment by interfering with or denying a student’s participation in or receipt of benefits, services, or opportunities in the institution’s program.” Any and all acts of bullying that are noticed should be made known to the school so there can be a stop to it as soon as possible. This way, no one gets hurt further.
Develop a Community Wide Bullying Prevention Plan
The first steps in creating a community wide bullying prevention plan is by helping children identify the bullying and how to be able to stand up to it safely. Once the child identifies it, it is best they tell their parents because as soon as the parent knows, the quicker they can put an end to the bullying and make it known that it is not acceptable. Parents, school staff and other adults within the community should help children in the prevention of bullying by talking about it, building a safe environment for everyone and working together to build a strategy to keep the bullying at bay.
A child who is being bullied in school can easily lose their confidence. A parent needs to help restore their child’s confidence and not let the bullying in school get the best of them. They should encourage them to enjoy time with their friends, offer them a listening ear always, talk about the good parts of their day and tell them they believe in them in order to restore their sense of confidence and self-esteem.
Also, it is important to remember that as tempting as it may be to tell the child to fight back, this is not the solution. Just advising them to not respond and to walk away can help them feel superior. As long as the parent is on top of the bullying situation, this can help the child manage and cope with bullying in schools.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 7 CYBER BULLYING TIPS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW.