How to Combat Bullying
Bullying at school can cause major changes in your child and as a parent, you may feel defeated. There are many helpful ways to combat bullying through communicating with other parents, school administration, and most importantly, your child. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 1 in 5 children from ages 12-18 are being bullied in U.S. schools. Bullying hits its peak in middle school, with almost 1 in 3 students reporting incidents of bullying in the sixth grade. Many experts believe bullying can be handled with the correct team of adults coming together to create a safe environment to prevent or confront bullying.
The first step is starting the bullying conversation early on with your child. Explain to him what bullying is, how it can happen (covert or overt), and what to do if he is experiencing bullying or seeing another student being bullied. Educating your child on what bullying is and who to tell if he experiences or sees it, is typically the furthest destination you can take them. Bullying is a problem that can only truly be resolved by parents, teachers, and school administration.
Diagnosing bullying in your child is the next step. A normally happy child who has shifted to angry, upset, anxious, or avoidant could be a sign your child is being bullied. Additionally, a child who is adamant about not going to school or demanding you drop them off or pick them up instead of taking the bus may be facing bullying tactics. Asking your child questions is pivotal to understanding what is going on at school. Questions like, “Have you seen anyone being rude to someone at school?” or, “How do you feel about your classmates?”, are good open-ended questions that can typically start the conversation.
Getting involved with school administration, teachers, and parents is key to creating a plan to stop bullying. If your child is being bullied or your child is telling you about another student being bullied, it is important you reach out to other parents to inform them. Parents coming together in unity can help you all have a support system to navigate this intense time. Meeting with teachers and administration to create a plan to stop the bullying is crucial, so teachers and administration can be on the lookout for bullying.
Lastly, expressing to your child that it is a strength, and not a weakness, to inform a teacher when she sees bullying occur or when she is being bullied, is key. Teaching your child to stand up for the weak and themselves, creates a domino effect for other kids who see that. Creating a plan for when bullying occurs involves communicating with your child and believing them. Experts believe that children often have the biggest effect on stopping bullying, and they do so when they feel they are safe and protected to inform an adult. Talk to your child about bullying, be aware of the signs, reach out to parents and school administration, and always get involved so your child does not face this alone.
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