It’s a phenomenon that seems to be more prevalent than ever. Bullying can prove emotionally and physically destructive to our children, and deserves attention from school administrators, teachers and parents. Name-calling, punching and teasing still remain incredibly hurtful. But in this digital age, bullying can take a variety of other forms – from aggressive text messages to insulting photos posted on the web.
You want your child to enjoy their school years, and make the most of the educational and social possibilities the experience can bring to them. Here are three steps parents can take to ensure that bullying doesn’t hinder these opportunities for their children:
Show support. Many children are too embarrassed to admit they’re being bullied. Encourage your child to open up to you about such things. Make sure they know that it’s not their fault if they should ever find themselves the subject of bullying, and that you’re always there to listen. If they discuss episodes of bullying with you, listen attentively and gather as much information as possible. Do not encourage your child to fight back.
Contact the school. If your child has admitted to being bullied at school, you should speak to their teachers and administrators about the problem. Present them with detailed information you’ve gathered from your child, ask them to keep an eye out for such behaviors, and offer to help in any way you can.
Provide support. You should encourage your child to make new friends, and engage in activities that most interest them, including music, athletics or the arts. This will assist them in developing a stronger sense of self-esteem, and can be their most useful defense against a bully.
For more information on how to recognize and deal with the burdens of bullying, parents should visit www.stopbullying.gov.
Sources: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics