What do you do if your child is bullied at school?
Finding out that your child is being bullied is upsetting and far more common than you may realize. You may feel helpless to stop the abuse, but there are many things you can do to help make the situation better, as well as some things that you shouldn’t do. So how do you stop bullying?
Start a dialogue
Talk to your child about what is happening. Remember to be calm, patient and try not to let your emotions influence the situation. The goal is to get your child to tell their story and the best way to do that is to listen without interruption, let them know you understand and are not passing judgement. Letting your feelings take over could exaggerate the situation or make your child hesitant to come to you in the future.
Explain that bullying is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. It is behavior that is intentionally meant to hurt others and not something that should be ignored. Help your child develop ideas to deal with the problem. Ask them questions like “What do you think might help?”, “What do you think you should say next time?”, etc.
After your conversation, start documenting all the details that took place, such as what happened, by whom, when it happened, where it happened, and if there were any witnesses.
Don’t take matters into your own hands
Many parents feel the urge to step in and confront the child responsible for bullying and/or approach their parents to seek a solution. As tempting as it is, this is not something you should do yourself, but allow the school or police to handle. It is easy for parents to get offended when negative things are being said about their child and such confrontations need to happen in neutral territory. Entering another’s property without permission could be considered trespassing, for which you can be arrested. In addition, if the child responsible for bullying comes from an abusive background a physical altercation could take place, making the situation worse for all involved.
Contact the school
Your school has a responsibility to protect students from harassment, bullying and provide a safe learning environment. Schedule a meeting with your child’s principal and teachers to discuss the problem. Outline what has happened, not in an angry rant, but relay the information as you would with a friend and ask for help.
During your meeting ask to review the school’s anti-bullying policy and make a plan for dealing with the situation moving forward.
See the infographic below for more information on bullying and what you can do to help.
For further information for parents, children and educators, or to access a help chat line, see www.stompoutbullying.org