Bullying is a serious problem that comes in many forms: Physical, such as hitting or punching; verbal, such as teasing or name calling; and nonverbal, such as excluding the victim from social activities with his peers. Though it is a common problem among boys, it happens with young girls as well. Parents play the most vital role in preventing bullying with their child. They must advocate on his behalf, working together with the school to devise a plan which will both end and prevent the bullying of their child.
Watch for Warning Signs
This is the first step in the prevention of bullying and requires constant vigilance on the part of both mom and dad. Some of the most common signs of bullying include frequent cuts and bruises for which he cannot explain, having few or no friends, coming home with his clothes torn, missing pieces of clothing or various belongings, a fear of walking to school, a sudden drop in school performance or a decreased interest in school work, appearing sad or depressed when he arrives home from school, and a drop in his self-esteem. If you notice any of these with your child, your next move is to sit and talk with him.
Ask a Few Questions
It is not uncommon for a child who is being bullied to want to protect, so to speak, the person or persons bullying her. This is often because she is afraid of what will occur if the situation is brought to light. In many cases, she has been threatened by her bully. However, if you suspect she is being bullied, it cannot be prevented unless the issue is addressed. You can begin by asking her questions which can be either direct or subtle. Start by asking her if she is being picked on or bullied, if she is being teased or if she is being left out by the other children. If she does not respond, try the more subtle approach by asking her if she has any special friends and what their names are, if she sits next to anyone on the bus or if any of the kids seem to like her. She may not answer right away, but if you show her you care about her safety, she will eventually open up to you.
Talk to the School
Once your child has opened up to you, make an appointment with the principal of his school. For this meeting, you should bring your child with you so he can explain what has been happening and for how long. He will also need to give names. It is at this meeting you need to stand up for your child–make it clear that you want a meeting arranged immediately with the parents of the child or children responsible for harrassing or hurting your child. This is the next step in the prevention process.
Make the School Listen
In some cases, a school will refuse to believe there is any bullying taking place on their grounds. If you have met with the school principal and have found this to be his attitude, you need to make him listen. Begin keeping a descriptive log, with the help of your child, listing every incident she has experienced or continues to experience. Write down the date and be descriptive when detailing the events. You may also want to call parents of other students in her class and ask if their child has experienced any problems with bullying. The more people you have on your side, the stronger your case will be. Then, take your case back to the school and convince them that something needs to be done.
Meet With the Parents
Once the school is a willing participant, ask them to arrange a meeting between yourself and the parent or parents of the child or children responsible for bullying your child. It may be wise to also have a school counselor or social worker present in the event that tempers flare or the talks become heated. The goal of the meeting is for both sides to discuss the situation thoroughly and develop a plan that will not only put a stop to the bullying, but prevent it from happening again. For instance, the bully’s parents may be given suggestions by the school counselor on how they can influence their child in a more positive way to prevent him from wanting to bully others. There should be follow-up meetings once a plan is in place to check the progress of the situation untill all involved feel the threat is gone and the situation has been successfully ended and further incidents prevented.