Being bullied is a lot like being stuck in quicksand. The more you fight it, the worse it gets. And unfortunately, bullying can range from something as seemingly innocuous as name-calling and teasing to more dangerous and physically violent behavior. Most children will find themselves on the receiving end of name-calling or teasing at some point, and it can be really tough to deal with. But there are ways to get help if you’re being bullied.
Being bullied is no fun. No one wants to be the one getting hit, shoved or worse. And it’s not just something that goes away after childhood. Being bullied can stick with a person into adulthood and cause all sorts of problems, like anger, shame and helplessness. But most schools take bullying seriously and will discipline bullies, up to and including expelling them from school.
But what can you do to help your child? As a parent, you might feel like there’s not much you can do if the school isn’t doing enough. However, there are a few things that you can do to ease your mind and help your child.
• If your child comes to you and says that she is being bullied, it is important to believe her. Reassure her that you take her seriously, and tell her that she should let you know if the bullying continues. Unfortunately, bullying is a reality for many children, but assure her that she is not alone. This will hopefully make the situation feel less daunting and more manageable.
• It’s important to try and get as much information as you can about the bullies, like who they are and what happened. This way, you can figure out how severe the problem is. If it seems severe or like it won’t resolve itself, you might want to teach your child how to be more assertive when dealing with bullies.
You can talk to a counselor about assertiveness techniques. You can also help her build self-esteem. Often learning a new hobby, making new or more friends or taking up positive outlets such as martial arts or team sports can help.
• Tell your child that there is safety in numbers, and she should stay in groups of other kids. Advise her to keep calm in the face of the bully, as this takes away the bully’s power. Explain that the bully has a problem and may need help.
• It’s important to explain to your child that if the bully doesn’t stop, you may need to take more drastic action in order to protect them and other kids. This might mean reporting the bully so that they can get help.
• It’s important not to encourage your child to fight back if they’re being bullied. This could lead to serious injury. Instead, teach them how to stand up for themselves verbally and walk away from the situation.
• If the school is not aware of the problem, make them aware. If they are aware, but seem to not be taking steps to help, talk with the superintendent or the school board if you must. The school has a vested interest in protecting its students.
According to the website StopBullying.gov, there are some signs that parents can look for if they suspect their child is being bullied. These signs include: suddenly becoming moody or withdrawn, not wanting to go to school, having “mystery” illnesses or reasons to stay home from school, not wanting to wear clothes that are clean or torn, having trouble going to sleep, waiting until they get home to use the bathroom, asking for extra lunch money, or not wanting to go to school.
If you see any of these warning signs in your child, it could mean they are being bullied. Don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s teacher, the school counselor, or even law enforcement to get to the bottom of the problem.