WHAT SCHOOLS AND PARENTS CAN DO ABOUT CHILDHOOD BULLYING

Since you care enough to be reading this, more likely than not you are aware of the psychological scars and emotional ramifications that bullying in and around schools unleashes on our children.  Studies show that  childhood bullying can have lasting effects on a child’s mental health.  Especially children who are bullied around the age of eight.  These  effects last well into adulthood,, of course, and children typically  suffer poor classroom performance, low self esteem and experience a high incidence of depression and even suicidal ideation.  Being bullied is a traumatic experience, no doubt, and I’m sure you know that such (bullying) behavior must be taken seriously by teachers, administrators, parents and peers.

Since there is a strong association between being bullied and suicides, I am thinking maybe we need to chat (here) about adopting (parents and schools) some strategies to mitigate, maybe even stop completely bullying behavior in school.  Why?  I have always been a strong advocate of the idea that, if you believe it strong enough and act, there aint nothing that cannot be accomplished.

  • Studies and my experience tells me that victim-students believe that the most helpful thing teachers (and parents) can do is (1) listen to students about their experiences, fears, etc., and (2) care enough to follow-up to make sure that the bullying stopped (after their intervention & discussion with the bully, etc.  Some student-victims suggested (3) that the teacher shares advise on what to do and how to do it.
  • The most harmful things that teachers & parents can do is to (1) tell the child to solve the issue him or herself, and (2) tell the child that, if he or she acted differently, he or she wouldn’t get bullied, and (3) to suggest that he or she should “stop tattling.”

TIPS ON HELPING KIDS WHO ARE OR MIGHT BE VICTIMS

Maybe we can begin with the sad reality that your students or, if you are a parent, your child(ren) may be reluctant, embarrassed, or even ashamed to open up about being a victim or (repeated) bullying.  Why?  Take it from real victims to whom I have spoken, they may believe it is their fault they are chosen (as victims), that maybe, if they just looked different, acted different, spoke with a different accent – who knows – bullying would not happen!

Resolving this and fostering an atmosphere of love and trust requires a sensitive approach.  It may not be enough to care or to love that child; it may require you to act and speak in a certain manner and way to earn his or her trust.

  • Praise the child for doing the right thing (coming to you).
  • Before you can even get to that point, however, it requires of you to begin a daily dialogue with questions about things that has happened to them.
  • It may require you to tell him or her a story of your experience, if relevant, about bullying (either as a victim or a witness).
  • Your story should include the fact that the child is far from alone.  That this happens a lot.
  • Your dialogue should teach that it is the bully who is acting badly, not your child!
  • Other things might include letting someone at school know.  Often they are in position to monitor & help.
  • If you wish to talk with the bully’s parents, the school can offer to mediate.

In the next post, some tips on hos your child can avoid being bullied.

Until then, stay safe.

The Hammer

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