Bullies: Helping Your Child Cope
Bullying can happen in school, on the playground—and now even on the Internet through
social networking sites. Bullying is intentional tormenting that can be physical,
social, or psychological. Hitting, shoving, threatening, shunning, and spreading rumors
can all be forms of bullying. Kids who are bullied can become depressed, develop low
self-esteem, avoid school, feel physically ill, and even think about killing themselves.
What to look for
There are few things as disturbing as finding out your child is a victim of bullying.
Other than seeing signs of physical harm like cuts or bruises, it may be hard to know
about bullying unless your child tells you or you ask. That's why it's a good idea
to bring up the subject, even if you don't think anything is wrong. Also, let your
children know how important it is to tell an adult if they have been bullied. Or to
tell an adult if they have seen any other kids being bullied.
Changes in your child's normal behavior may be warning signs of bullying. Signs to
look for include:
How to help your child
The first thing you need to do is control your own emotions. One of the reasons kids
don't tell parents about bullying is because they are afraid of their parents’ reaction.
Stay calm, offer support, and tell your child that you are going to help.
Never ignore bullying, and never tell your child to tough it out or fight back. Fighting
back is almost always a bad idea. Kids who fight get hurt, and both kids may get in
Here are safe tips for helping your child:
Reassure your child. Make sure your child knows that he or she is not to blame and
should not be ashamed. Praise the courage it took to come forward and tell you about
Learn the facts. Get all the information you can about the bullying. This includes
who is involved, how often it happens, and where it takes place.
Let the proper authorities know. Don’t confront the bully's parents on your own. Leave
that to school or other officials.
Encourage safe activities and friendships. You may want to ask your child's teacher
for advice on participating in healthy activities like the arts or athletics.
Have a safety plan. Talk about locations, groups of kids, and activities that should
be avoided. Make sure your child uses the buddy system when at risk. Discuss where
to go and whom to ask for help in case of an incident.
Bullying is a common problem for many kids, but as kids start to learn that bullying
is never cool and that adults need to know about any acts of bullying, the situation
should get better. Learn about your state’s bullying laws. If you have tried all the
standard ways to prevent bullying and still fear for your child's safety, you may
need to contact legal authorities.
Finally, remember that many kids become bullies because they learn bullying at home.
Children who are exposed to anger, shame, and violence are children who are at risk
for becoming bullies. You don't want your child to be bullied and you certainly don't
want your child to be a bully. Make your home environment safe and supportive.