At every school, there are some kids that are looked upon as the school bullies. There are also kids who seem to be targeted regularly by these bullies, for whatever reason. As a parent, it is both alarming and heartbreaking to realize that your precious child is becoming the target of someone else’s bad behavior and anger issues. When the current generation of parents was growing up, bullying was usually name-calling, excessive teasing, and maybe went as far as a playground fight. Bullying that resulted in true physical injury was a rarity.
Today, however, all one needs to do is watch the evening news to see that bullying has taken on a whole new level of aggression and potential danger. School bullying has become a very serious problem for many children and their families which cannot be ignored or thought of as just another normal aspect of childhood. Parents must teach their children how to deal with school bullies in a manner that is effective and will keep them as safe as possible. While “just walk away” or “just ignore them” may sound good to those who have never witnessed the increasing vitriole and hostility of bullies today, it is not usually going to work.
One of the essential keys for parenting and protecting your child from school bullies is to keep the lines of communication open between your child and yourself. When your child comes to talk with you about something, stop what you’re doing and pay attention to them. Kids can tell when you’re not really listening, but only nodding and giving short replies when appropriate. The conversation may not be about bullying, but when the time comes that it is, you want your child to still be comfortable and confident enough in you to come to you and discuss what is occurring. You can’t even take the first step in advising and teaching your child if you don’t know what is going on in the child’s life.
When the time comes that your child expresses some troubles that he or she is having with school bullies, you should listen very attentively to what is being said. Allow the child to finish talking before you begin. When your chance to speak comes, ask questions so that you can gather as much information about the situation as possible. Keep an open mind. It can be difficult, but you must keep in mind that there may be more to the story than what you’re hearing. There is a possibility that your child has done something to instigate, though not to justify, the bullying. Do not accuse your child, but ask questions regarding when the bullying began, what happened right before it, and what type of relationship your child has had in the past with the bully. A full story is going to be important for you when you are deciding what to do next and what to advise your child to do.
If the bullying has not escalated into physical violence at this point, your first step is to go with your child to report the incidents of bullying to school officials, such as the school principal, the school counselor, and the child’s teacher(s). Because you aren’t at the school with your child at all times, these are people who need to know what is going on so that they can monitor the situation. They may also have a bit more insight to share with you that you were previously unaware of. It is possible that there can be some seperation placed between your child and the bully, such as changing classes, which will alleviate the situation if it hasn’t gone too far yet. You might also be able to gain some information about the bully’s family that will assist you in deciding if they are going to be approachable and/or helpful regarding the situation.
If you know how to contact the parents of the bully and it is a safe situation, you should do so. There is a possibility that they have no idea that there is a problem at all and will do their part in helping to resolve the situation. There is also the possibility that the home environment is one where anger and bullying are being bred into the life of the child, in which case, it will probably do no good at all to try and get the parents involved. When you are talking with the parents of a bully, don’t begin by throwing accusations at them or at their child. This will only lead to them becoming defensive and it will hinder any progress at all. Simply tell them that you have become aware of a situation between the kids and give them the details, as you know them to be true. You will probably be able to tell rather quickly if there is going to be any cooperation given by these parents or not.
If there has been any physical confrontation or the threat of violence between the bully and your child, this is something that should be reported to the police. Even if the threat has not been fulfilled, getting the law involved will open up a file regarding the situation which can be helpful if the situation progresses. Situations with school bullies can escalate very rapidly at times. Don’t sit back and think that threats of violence are nothing more than words and will go away if they are just ignored. They rarely do and there is a time when legal intervention is the only way to get help. If an assault has occurred, this is a prosecutable offense and charges should be filed as soon as possible.
School bullying is not a small problem today. It is harmful to a child’s self-esteem and sense of security to be the target of a bully. It can be very dangerous, and even life-threatening. As parents, we must really understand that and take instances of school bullying to be serious issues. As such, our children should essentially be taught that dealing with these situations requires help from us. They shouldn’t be advised to deal with it on their own because they aren’t equipped to. We must step in immediately in order to ensure the safety, both emotional and physical, of our child.