What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied
Children often do not tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or frightened. If you suspect your child is being bullied or your child brings it up, consider these steps:
- Talk with your child. Focus on your child. Express your concern and make it clear that you want to help.
- Empathize with your child. Say bullying is wrong, that it is not their fault, and that you are glad they had the courage to tell you about it.
- Work together to find solutions. Ask your child what they think can be done to help. Reassure them that the situation can be handled privately.
- Document ongoing bullying. Work with your child to keep a record of all bullying incidents. If it involves cyberbullying, keep a record of all messages or postings.
- Help your child develop strategies and skills for handling bullying. Provide suggestions for ways to respond to bullying, and help your child gain confidence by rehearsing their responses.
- Be persistent. Bullying may not be resolved overnight.
- Stay vigilant to other possible problems that your child may be having. Some of the warning signs may be signs of other serious problems. Share your concerns with a counselor at your child's school.
Working with Your Child’s School
Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the school’s help. Parents should never be afraid to call the school to report that their child is being bullied and ask for help to stop the bullying.
- Know the school policies. Ask for a copy or check the student handbook to see whether your school has standards in place that will help resolve the situation.
- Open the line of communication. Call or set up an appointment to talk with your child's teacher or school counselor and establish a partnership to stop the bullying.
- Get help for your child. Seek advice from your child's guidance counselor or other school-based health professionals. They may be able to help your child cope with the stress of being bullied.
- Commit to making the bullying stop. Talk regularly with your child and with school staff to see whether the bullying has stopped.
What Not to Do
- Never tell your child to ignore the bullying. What the child may “hear” is that you are going to ignore it. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Often, trying to ignore bullying allows it to become more serious.
- Do not blame your child for being bullied. Do not assume that your child did something to provoke the bullying.
- Do not encourage your child to harm the person who is bullying them. It could get your child hurt, suspended, or expelled.Do not contact the parents of the students who bullied your child. It may make matters worse. School officials should contact the parents of the children involved.
- Do not demand or expect a solution on the spot. Indicate you would like to follow up to determine the best course of action. Also, be aware that the law limits the ability of school personnel from revealing disciplinary actions taken against other students. Just because they cannot tell you if or how another student was disciplined, does not mean action was not taken.
Additional information and resources can be found at www.stopbullying.gov