I am a parent of nine-year old boy who has been bullied twice since the age of five years old. My spouse and I took proactive steps to speak to those in charge to take care of these situations from happening again. We also taught our son to stand up for himself and to tell an authority figure in school or at a community outing that he is being bullied by a peer. It is no secret that school bullying has been around for ages and different mindsets and philosophies to teach our children to to defend themselves has changed over time. Back in the day, when I went to school in the 1970’s, my parents told me to defend myself in school and in my community. There were no anti-bullying school laws back then as families and neighbors worked it out among themselves.
The landscape has changed into the modern era. Statistics are now kept on how many children are bullied in school and what type of bullying they endured from their bullies. Adverse consequences have resulted in some children taking their own lives from the traumatic effects across the country that have resulted in laws and procedures for public schools to handle alleged school bullying incidents. The law is pretty clear on what constitutes an alleged bullying act that has to occur more than one time and meet a certain criteria for administrators to start the investigation process.
Here are five tips that parents can teach their children in handling bullying in school or in their community: Please note this is informational based upon extensive research literature that is now popping up across social media by credentialed researchers who study this topic.
- Educate your child that is OK to feel embarassed and humiliated to be bullied by their peer(s) and to feel angry and shame as a result. Too often, children hold in their feelings as they feel uncomfortable in sharing what happened to them. It is perfectly fine to seek out professional help to teach your child coping skills on managing their feelings.
- Document the incidents that your child reports to you on what happened to them. Put down the date and time and area it is occurred. Talk to you child about how important it is state the chain of events on paper and to keep a running record. I understand that many parents would rather hold off reporting it to the authorities for fear of retailation or fear.
- Teach your child skills in being assertive and firm in interacting with bullies. Tell them to say out loud, “Leave me alone!” Walk away and tell a teacher or an authority figure on what is happening to them. Schools have protocols on what to do next and it is the parent’s responsiblity to follow-up and be actively involved in preventing their child from being bullied again.
- Sign up your child for social skills classes at an after school program where qualified teachers will teach strategies through role-plays, demonstrations, active discussions with peers, and brief lecture on how to handle bullies. Another option is siging your child up for karate where they will learn how to defend themselves against bullies from the sensei.
- For those parents who have children with special needs and are on Individual Education Plans (IEPs), it is mandatory to put down a plan of action if your child gets bullied. Too often, these children get targeted by their peers because they appear or act differenty from their able-bodied peers. No child should have to suffer in silence if they are being bullied. Hold your school accountable in making sure your child is safe.
It is up to parents to advocate and to be proactive in protecting their children from bullies in their community and in school. I understand feeling shame and vulnerability prevents many from taking proactive steps to protect their child as they retailiation from others.