What to do if your child is being bullied
The pain and anguish regarding the recent suicide of the 14-year-old in Ocean County has left us speechless, scared, overwhelmed, distraught, and concerned for our own children and families. I know, I am. To add to this unfathomable act and tragic event, it has been videotaped and is circulating on social media. Do we have any doubts that bullying is an act that requires immediate attention and serious consequences?
Unfortunately, most children who are bullied keep quiet about it and do not tell an adult or parent. It is embarrassing for the child to admit that they are being bullied. Some signs to look out for include doing poorly in school, having low self-esteem, being depressed, having sleep problems, withdrawing from school or social activities, being reluctant to go to school, staying away from friends, and crying episodes.
Talk to your child and ask them to share how their day was at school and be direct in your questioning about bullying that may have occurred. Help your child understand that informing a teacher about an incident is not tattling, but could actually be helping other children. Sometimes kids feel like it’s their own fault, that if they looked or acted differently it wouldn’t be happening. Sometimes they’re scared that if the bully finds out they told, it will get worse. Focus on offering comfort and support no matter how upset you are as a parent. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.
Getting support from the school your child attends is essential. Informing their teacher, guidance counselor, principal, school nurse, or any other involved faculty/staff member is a must. All schools are legally required to have an anti-bullying policy. Before approaching the school about a bullying incident, list all the facts: what happened, who was involved, when it occurred who witnessed it. Avoid accusing the school and remember that teachers are usually the last to find out that bullying is happening at school. First, allow the school time to deal with the problem instead of taking matters in your own hands and contacting the bully’s parents. Stay in touch with them and arrange a follow-up meeting to see how the situation is being resolved. School administrators treat bullying as a very serious problem today and will do all they can to assist student and family.
Parents can play a central role in preventing bullying and stopping it when it happens. Teach children to solve problems without using violence and praise them when they do, give children positive feedback, and help give them the confidence to stand up for what they believe.
Parents can advise their children to do the following when bullied:
Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot. www.stopbulling.com
At the Hellenic Therapy Center, located at 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey we have a team of licensed professionals who can assist you, your child, and the entire family cope with such issues. We are available day, evening, and weekend hours. Visit us at www.hellenictherapy.com or call 908-322-0112 or on Facebook. Below we have a few websites you may utilize for further information.