Every parent wants the best for their child(ren) and will go above and beyond to keep them safe. It’s a terrible feeling when a parent isn’t able to stop pain and/or suffering from entering a child’s life from any source. A big problem with today’s youth seems to be bullying. When I was in school we had “mean kids”, but nothing like those you see today – it may be due in part to advancements in technologies and declines in privacy. Whatever the reasons, bullying can do a lot of harm in young children as well as teens. Aside from parental monitoring to prevent cyberbullying, here are a few ways to determine if your child is being bullied and how you can stop it.
- Does your child come home without belongings (s )he left with? Perhaps they took a cell phone, iPod, laptop etc.. with them and it didn’t make it home. The first step here is to ask why they don’t have it. If they are young, they may not fully grasp the value of the item(s ) but older kids should. Did they lend it to a friend, leave it on the bus, or forget it in their locker? If they come back with one of these reasons give them a day to return it. Offer to go to school with them, or pick them up so they remember. If they are hesitant, ask them if someone took it and explain you are not upset with them. If it was taken, or a day has passed and it still hasn’t been returned, go to the school and speak with the teacher during lunch, or another break. Ask the teacher if they’ve noticed anything out of the ordinary or have any suspicion of bullying.
- Is your child coming home with bruises, cuts, burns or any other injury? Ask how it happened – where they were, who was with them and what they were doing. Use your best judgment here, is the story logical? Has this happened before? If your child is a klutz at home, they are possibly a klutz at school and their excuse is viable. If you don’t believe them, or they tell you it was due to bullying contact the school. Talk to the principal and find out if they had knowledge of the incident and how long it’s been going on. Many schools are cracking down on bullying but they depend on people bringing the offenses to light to take care of them. If you don’t get the desired results from the principal, go a step up and call the superintendent of your local school district and bring it up to them.
- Is your child withdrawn, defensive, depressed? Try sitting down in a quiet setting and talking to them. Ask them how things are going, what have the been doing for fun in school. Make small talk and take notice of their reactions. Ask if anyone is being mean to them, are kids calling them names? Hitting them? If they say no, but you still suspect something offer them a friendly ear whenever they want to talk. Don’t try to force anything out of them, just let them know you’re there and you love them. If they do confess to being bullied reassure them that this is not okay, and you will make it stop. Call the school, go to the PTA meetings, talk to the bullies parents. If nothing is being done to stop it, continue going a step above your last attempt. Don’t stop pushing until you get results, no one deserves to be bullied.
- You may be considering teaching your child to fight, or encouraging them to fight. Self defense is one thing, purposely harming someone beyond defending oneself isn’t much better than bullying. There are many self defense classes that are geared towards the younger generation nowadays, a few of which offer coping skills as well.
- There are support groups and counseling available to help kids that are being bullied, check your yellow pages and local bulletin boards for more information. The most important thing to do is to let your child know there is nothing wrong with them, that it is the bully that has a problem. You may feel the urge to say mean things about the bully, but keep in mind 96% of bullies have abusive home lives, and end up acting out their feelings with bouts of rage.