What To Do About Bullying At School
For kids who are bullied, the distance from home to school can feel like a thousand miles. Staying away from a bully becomes a priority and a child may go to great lengths to protect themselves. Skipping lunch or even attempting to stay home are common ways bullied children avoid being a target.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is officially defined as aggressive behavior that is purposely inflicted in order to harm another. The bully victim feels threatened and does not want it to occur. Typical bullying behavior includes name-calling, spreading rumors, kicking, pushing, hitting or tripping. The extortion of money or taking personal items is another common bullying tactic. Cyber-bullying has also become very common. It can be just as cruel and damaging as other forms of harassment.
The most recent data on bullying shows that 20% of students in grades 9-12 experience bullying. That number is conservative given that bullying is often not reported. Adults are notified in only one-third of these incidences and unfortunately bullying is on the rise in schools across the country.
When your child is bullied, it can be a heart-wrenching situation. You may remember being bullied at school and how difficult it was emotionally. But these days there are more resources and public awareness about the problem. If your child is a victim of bullying, they may be able to work it out for themselves, but they might not.
Bullying has become a serious issue in our society. Children who are bullies often grow up to become adults with anger issues. As a parent, it's important to get as much information as you can about the situation, and if necessary, take action right away.
Signs Of Bullying
More troubling, a kid who bullies is often smart enough to avoid doing it in front of a teacher or other adult. But an observant parent will suspect that there's a problem. Perhaps their good-natured daughter has suddenly become quiet and withdrawn. There are unexplained bruises or missing personal items. Other symptoms of a bullied child include a change in eating habits, difficulty sleeping or frequent stomachaches. They may become moody and begin bullying their siblings.
A bullied child may not want to discuss the situation due to shame. They may fear that their mom will storm to the school, make a scene, and in their mind, make the situation worse. They may deal with the problem quietly, hoping the threat will go away. Meanwhile, they risk carrying the emotional pain for years.
There's A Growing Public Awareness Of Bullying
A bullied child can feel haunted because harassment is often repetitive. They feel intimidated, sometimes even ashamed that someone is taking their lunch money, teasing them, shoving them on the playground, or worse. The situation can be heartbreaking for a parent. Many times the school principal or teachers aren't willing or able to intervene. But fortunately, there is a growing public awareness of the dangers associated with bullying. Hopefully, it's just the thing to stop this threatening behavior in its tracks.
Some Bullying May Require Legal Action
Even if the legal cases are not settled in favor of these parents, it is much better to take these precautions and file before any major physical harm is done to the children. Once any physical harm occurs, the parents would be forced to file a personal injury case. This would be much more detrimental to everyone involved.
The purpose of a personal injury case is to have an investigation into the cause of an accident. In cases of school bullying, negligence would either be on the behalf of the parents of the bully or the school.
What a Parent Should Do About Bullying
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, there are immediate steps you can take. First, it's important to get to the bottom of the situation. What's actually going on? If your child is reluctant to talk about it, be gentle, and find a way in. The direct approach may not work.
Once you have details, let's say another kid is stealing their lunch, ask your child what they think should be done. You can brainstorm ideas, but don't encourage them to name-call or fight back. That can backfire, or escalate to violence. Usually, a child can best deal with a bully by saying something like: “Hey, what you're doing isn't cool.” A neutral response can diffuse the situation, enabling them to simply walk away.
If the bullying continues it's time to take action. Let your child know that you're going to discuss it with their teacher, and it will be held in confidence. Then set up an appointment and be firm, but not angry. The teacher may not be aware of the bullying. It is important that the school understands the impact the bullying is having on your child. If the problem persists, speak with the principal and check back to find out what action they've taken.
The situation changes when there is physical violence. No child can concentrate on school work if they are concerned about their safety. If pushing or hitting is occurring, it is necessary to step in and intervene. The bullying could result in a personal injury. In that case, get the police involved and contact an attorney to learn about your rights.