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  • What Every Parent Needs to Know About Identifying and Stopping School Bullying & How to Empower Their Child

    March 7, 2017

    by Hilary Smith

     

    In the late ‘90s, the shootings in Jonesboro and Columbine gained the media’s attention to school violence and irreparably damaged parents’ perception of the educational walls as a harbor of safety and sanctuary for their children. School violence now encompasses not just the most extreme cases of violence and terror but also the everyday events that don’t always warrant a news story. Bullying—both physical and mental—is the everyday form of violence and horror that many students experience on a daily basis.

    According to the National Center on Education Statistics, about one in five students is a victim of bullying. Social media and its popularity among the millennial generation has made bullying and abuse not only easier but sometimes untraceable. Popular apps like Yik Yak allow kids to post comments anonymously and without care.

    schoolyard

    Cyber bullying is stealthy and dangerous. This type of bullying encompasses everything from hurtful rumors and name calling to sharing and posting inappropriate images with malicious intent. In some cases—like the case of Megan Meier—the bully isn’t even a child but a parent.

    Bullying in all forms destroys a child’s self-esteem, can cause depression, fear anxiety and can even lead to suicide attempts. However, parents and educators are not powerless to stop bullying and help victims.

    HOW TO REPORT BULLYING

    Parents should be proactive by watching out for warning signs that their child is a victim of bullying. According to an article from PBS, some of the warnings signs of bullying include a fear of going to school (or the bus), changes in school performance, wetting the bed, nightmares, stomach aches, and talks of suicide.

    If a child is a victim of bullying, parents must intervene. Children often feel that they are alone in the fight, and also harbor a fear that speaking up about the abuse will make the situation worse. However, kids cannot fight this battle alone.

    Dealing with a bully situation requires diligence on the part of parents. Stomp Out Bullying advises parents to get all the facts of the incidents first…then call the school and ask to meet with the principal. Stay calm and provide all the details and facts. After meeting with administrators, it’s also a good idea to send a follow up note to thank them for the meeting and perhaps even reiterate what was discussed at the meeting. Documented emails are always good to have on hand.

    school office

    Parents also need to follow-up with their child to ensure the issue has been resolved. If the bullying continues, email the administrator stating additional concerns. If the administration fails to act, go higher up to the superintendent of the school. And, if all else fails, contact the police.

    HELPING A CHILD HEAL

    Even after the bullying has stopped, a child may still suffer effects of the abuse. Low self-esteem or depression may be experienced. Some children feel comfortable confiding in parents about their feelings or fears. However others might need additional therapy from licensed counselor or therapist to help heal the wounds.

    Children also might lean on silent companions like pets for comfort and support. Pets are often seen as perfect confidants for children, as they don’t judge and always provide a listening ear and unconditional love and affection. Some schools even use therapy dogs to help victims of bullying and to help instill a sense of empathy in the bullies themselves.

    Dog and girl

    Parents may look into adopting a pet for a child to help encourage empathy or to provide their child with a devoted companion. Some of the best breeds for children include Labrador Retrievers, poodles, Golden Retrievers and small terriers like the Norwich Terrier.

    MOVING FORWARD AND TAKING A STAND

    While parents cannot always prevent a child from becoming a victim of bullying they can empower children to stand against bullying and to always speak up. The biggest weapon a child has against bullying is their voice. If they see another child being bullied, teach them to speak up and speak out Empower them to tell a teacher or another trusted adult.

    Bullies rely on silence and fear tactics and feel powerful in the process. There is, however, power in groups. And the more kids unite to speak out against the bully, the less power that bully has to continue the abuse pattern.

    Together, parents and kids can help end bullying and return schools back to a safe sanctuary for all students.

     

     

     

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