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Bullying Prevention: What Parents Can Do

Bullying prevention, like most bullying, begins at home. Some parents try to escape responsibility by proclaiming, “Not my child,” or “there’s nothing I can do; it’s up to the school.” In fact, it is the responsibility of every parent to help their children understand bullying and to do everything possible to

teach them not to become either a bully or a victim.

The most important thing parents can do is to talk with their children regularly about bullying. Since bullying often begins in preschool, these conversations should begin early. These conversations are the best way to find out if your child is being bullied or is a bully.

  • What are your child’s views on bullying?
  • Does s/he understand that bullying can be physical and verbal?
  • Does she understand the connection between bullying and cyberbullying?
  • Does your child know a bully?
  • Does your child know anyone who is being bullied?

Next, it is important to help your child understand that reporting bullying (to you or to the principal, a teacher, a counselor, or a coach) is the right thing to do. Your child needs to understand that bullying rarely stops without some intervention, and that reporting busying is the best way to stop the bully and protect other children.

Here are some key tips for your conversations with your child.

If you think your child is a bully.

  • Talk about bullying behavior again and again, being consistent about everything you say to your child.
  • Communicate the importance of exercising care not to hurt another person’s feelings.
  • Be alert if your child demonstrates signs of being overly confident and arrogant.
  • Watch for and discuss your child’s lack of empathy for children who are being bullied.
  • Try (and try again) to teach your child the difference between friendly teasing of a friend and hurtful teasing = bullying.
  • Watch to see if and how your child likes to be in control of social interactions.
  • Do not allow bullying behaviors (by anyone) in your family.
  • Keep in mind that boys are not the only bullies. Sometimes, girls are worse verbal bullies.
  • Be a positive role model. Ask the same of other relatives.

If you think your child is being bullied.

  • Talk with your child about bullying, harassment and intimidation. Ensure your child understands the definition of each. Discuss other children at school who are being bullied, harassed or intimidation.
  • Look for signs of bullying in your child:
    • Grades dropping
    • Inappropriate temper outbursts
    • Loss of appetite
    • Bruises
    • Regularly losing items at school – school supplies, money, lunch, etc.
    • Wanting to stay home from school or skip other activities
    • Reluctance to ride the school bus
  • Teach your child that it is acceptable to ask for help, when to ask, and whom to ask.
  • Suggest to your child that s/he should try to stay with a group of children, because bullies typically try to isolate children.
  • Encourage your child to make new friends and to become involved in new group activities.
  • Always be sympathetic and caring when discussing bullying with your child. Ensure that other role models and relatives do the same. Never blame a victim.
  • Never ignore bullying. Alert the school (or other place where bullying occurs). Your child needs your help with a bullying situation. Your child will be frightened, ashamed, and demoralized. S/he needs you to be his/her advocate.
  • Be a positive role model.

It is important to treat all forms of bullying as of equal importance. Some bullies use physical pushing or hitting; some spread rumors and lies verbally; some spread stories using email, social media and chat groups; some bully by encouraging their “group” to exclude a victim. Remember that anyone can be a bully.

With your help, your child can survive being bullied, can learn to stand up to bullying, or can learn to stop bullying. What all children need to understand, and what every parent can help them understand, is that bullying in any form is wrong.