There isn’t a school in America that hasn’t had to deal with a child being the victim of physical bullying or cyberbullying. You can also go to any preschool in any city and see what we call bullies-in-the-making. These are little preschool children that don’t play well with other kids and they bite, scratch or hit their classmates when they don’t get their way or because they didn’t get a particular toy, etc. A lot of these children have not received the proper training on how to effectively deal with their emotions or the concept of sharing. Unfortunately, bullying can be a reflection of a child’s home environment or their group of friends. In either case, bullying isn’t just a childhood problem dealt with in schools, some adults experience bullying in their workplace.
Bullying can be defined in various ways. For example, physically hurting another person by kicking, punching or shoving them, teasing a person unmercifully about a physical attribute or mental handicap, intimidating someone to do one’s bidding against their will, belittling an employee in front of their co-workers or spreading lies or rumors about another person. Cyberbullying usually involves spreading rumors or embarrassing information about someone, sending them hateful or racist messages/pictures via text message, emails, blogs or any type of social media.
Regardless of the manner used to bully someone, it is equally hurtful and damaging to a person’s emotional and physical health. Here are a few things parents can do if your child is being bullied:
1. Please do not blame your child or tell them they just need to stand up for themselves. Oftentimes the bully is physically bigger and intimidating. Keep in mind that your child is a VICTIM!
2. If the bullying is occurring at your child’s school, call the school and make them aware of the situation. Ask the school to define their policy on bullying and request a copy in writing. Also, ask what procedures they have to deter further incidents of bullying. Make sure you address all of your requests and complaints about the bullying incident to the school principal in writing and make notes regarding any conversations regarding the situation between you and any school official.
3. If the bullying occurs again after you have contacted the school, report the incidents to law enforcement. If your child has been physically assaulted or threatened with bodily harm, you should report the incident to law enforcement regardless of the school’s position. Also, report the incident to the State Department of Education and if they don’t resolve, continue to escalate. The next steps would be to alert the U.S. Dept. of Education and Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division.
4. Tell your child that they are not being a ‘snitch’ or tattle telling if someone is bullying. Assure them that there is nothing wrong with them, it is the bully who has a problem.
5. Encourage your child to stay with groups of people and try not to be alone. Bullies like to strike when there’s no one around to stand up for their victim. Encourage your child to join a club at school if they’re having trouble making friends so they will not be perceived as being a ‘loner.’
6. If your child has been bullied and is suffering emotionally, get them counseling. Children don’t have the capacity to process the wide array of feelings bullying can cause and can possibly become suicidal. If you are being bullied at work, seek help from management and your human resources department. If you don’t find a remedy there, contact the Dept. of Labor.
While forms of bullying have been around since the beginning of time, it’s time to step up and take a stand against bullying. Encourage your child’s school to implement and enforce an anti-bullying program. Children that are introduced to anti-bullying material at younger ages, tend to not bully others as they grow older. Help implement ‘Kindness Clubs’ or have your community sponsor a ‘Random Acts of Kindness Week’ to get children and their parents in the mindset of giving and kindness.
The bottom line is – Bullying is unacceptable and can cause lifelong emotional scars if it is not addressed promptly and in the proper manner.