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Back to School, Back to Bullying

It is back to school time; and back to bullying for many children. Although some bullying takes a respite during the summer, the number of children and teens being bullied increases the day school opens.

A child or teen is bullied every seven minutes in the U.S.Back to School, Back to Bullying - Altizer Law

Nationally, at least 160,000 children miss school every day because they are being bullied or fear being bullied.

Bullying damages a child’s confidence, his or her ability to learn, and his or her ability to relate to peers.

Bullying has taken many new forms that most of us did not even imagine when we were children or teens. It is no longer a matter of verbal taunting in the school yard. It is not about a bully taking a child’s lunch or lunch money. The Internet and mobile phones have created more harmful and more pervasive methods of bullying.

There is a new messaging app called Sarahah. It is being downloaded so often that it is one of the top downloaded apps available. This app makes it possible for users to send messages anonymously, effectively hiding their identities. Although the app is rated for people aged 17 and over, there is no control on the age of those who download it. In fact, a large number of children are downloading it and using it to hide behind when they bully others.

Many children are unprepared to function in a bullying environment. They do not know what to do or how to protect themselves. Therefore, the first step in helping your child is to have a discussion before school reopens. Help your child understand that they do not need to tolerate bullying. Ensure they know what they can and should do if someone is bullying them. Help them to identify the people at their school who are “safe” to turn to if they are being bullied.

The second step you can take to help your child is to listen and to be alert for indications that they might be dealing with bullying. Some of the typical indications that a child or teen is being bullied are:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Absence of friends
  • Changes in their circle of friends
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Withdrawal from people
  • Anger and lashing out at people
  • Indications that your child is thinking about suicide
  • Unwillingness to go to school or skipping school
  • Complaints of stomach aches from young children
  • Grades dropping
  • Other abnormal behavior or attitude

What else can you do? You can educate yourself about the shape of bullying today. Further, most bullying experts suggest:

  • Initiate regular conversations with your child about bullying and about the environment in their school.
  • Be attentive for the indicators that your child is being bullied.
  • Set up an alert on one or more search engines for your child’s name. This will not identify issues arising from cell phone conversations, but it might help to monitor what is being said about your child.
  • Monitor social media. Run searches and watch for messages or comments about your child.
  • Teach your child to be more assertive. Bullies tend to target children they perceive as weak. Teach your child the importance of maintaining good posture, of looking people in the eye.
  • Help them to help themselves and others by instilling the importance of “if you see something, tell someone.”
  • Some experts recommend changing the settings on your child’s phone and restricting their access to certain apps and numbers. (In the settings function, choose “select restrictions” and “enable restrictions.”

Clearly, ignorance is not bliss when your child might be dealing with a bully.

Finally, the other side of bullying for parents is to have conversations with your child and monitor behavior that might indicate that your child is the bully.

For many children, back to school will mean back to being bullied. Know what to look for and how to help your child cope with their environments.

At Altizer Law, P.C., we care about children, teens, and their families.



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