Preventing Your Child from Being Bullied
Statistics show a frighteningly alarming rise in bullying in the public schools. In addition, with so much access to online media, there is now a whole new arena for bullies to thrive. Over 95% of kids age 6-19 report incidents of bullying online or cyber-bullying. For this reason, parents need to be even more vigilant. Here are some tips for handling bullying when it occurs in the school environment (real world) and in the virtual environment (online).
How Parents Should Deal with Bullying
1) Communicate with your Child’s Teachers Frequently: By making regular contact with teachers, they can better tell you what challenges your child is facing and help you deal with it at home too. If it is severe, it can be reported through the proper channels with the school principal, but this should already be taken care of by teachers. The point is to increase communication and express your concern if you feel your child has been or could be bullied. Then they will know to keep a more watchful eye on your child if problems occur.
2) Talk to Your Child Regularly: If you have a conversation with your child every day about how their day went, you are much more likely to head off problems before they become severe. Especially important are conversations about kids who pick on them, tease them in front of others, or other bullying behaviors. Then the problem can be addressed upfront with the teacher.
3) Teach Children that Bullying is Wrong: Occasionally, bullying occurs as a result of other bullying. If your child is bullied, teach them that they are not to bully the person who bullied them, even if they were bullied first. Instead, encourage them to seek help from a teacher or counselor to see if the problem can be handled that way, rather than going to the principal or taking it into their own hands. This way, your child will not be blamed for being part of the problem if the situation escalates later.
Dealing with Cyber Bullying
1) Limit Computer and Social Media Time: Cyber bullying is much more difficult to control, but one of the ways it can be controlled is to limit the amount of time you allow your child access to social media and computers. With mobile technology, it is that much more important to limit the access. Mobile technology has made it easier than ever for people to contact your child, interact with them, and harass them. Be aware of what they are doing and limit their access.
2) Track the Websites your Child has Visited: This may seem like spying but it is necessary now with so many ways ill-meaning people are doing the same thing. Go into the history of the web browser and see where your child has been. After all, you are the parent, and your child is a minor. You have every right to know. Then discuss anything out of the ordinary with your child and tell them upfront you are going to check and that you know things they don’t, and are only protecting them. This way you are being honest too.
3) Join a Parents’ Group on Bullying: There IS safety in numbers. If you can get more parents on your side, to have regular meetings about keeping your children safe from bullying, it will give you the advantage. Many times these parent groups will have guest speakers such as people who were bullied as a child or therapists or case workers who have worked with either bullied children or people who bully. This can provide valuable information for parents on what to do when it happens to your child.
4) Find out What your School’s Policies are on Cyber Bullying: This is a difficult area of the law, and one that is still being defined. Cyber bullying is hard to legislate because the internet is still widely unregulated. However, if there is someone at your child's school who is bullying them online, there may be more recourse as a parent you can take. Learn the law and find out what you can do to help.