What is Bullying?
Bullying can take many forms. It can be:
physical – hitting, shoving, damaging or stealing property
verbal – name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist or homophobic comments
social – excluding others from a group or spreading gossip or rumors about them
written – writing notes or signs that are hurtful or insulting
electronic (commonly known as cyber-bullying) – spreading rumors and hurtful comments through the use of e-mail, cell phones (e.g., text messaging) and on social media sites.
How can I tell if my child or teenager is being bullied?
Even if she doesn’t talk about it, you can watch for signs that your child is being bullied. Here are some signs to watch for:
Children who are being bullied may not want to go to school or may cry or feel sick on school days.
They may not want to take part in activities or social events with other students.
They may act differently than they normally do.
They might suddenly begin to lose money or personal items, or come home with torn clothes or broken possessions, and offer explanations that don’t make sense.
Teens who are bullied and/or harassed may also start talking about dropping out of school and begin skipping activities that involve other students.
My child is being bullied. What should I do?
Listen to your child and assure him that he has a right to be safe.
Be clear on the facts. Make notes about what happened and when it happened.
Help your child see that there is a difference between “ratting”, “tattling” or “telling” and reporting. It takes courage to report. Reporting is done not to cause trouble for another student, but to protect all students.
Make an appointment to talk to your child/teenager’s teacher, another teacher that your child/teenager trusts or the principal or vice-principal of the school.
Difficult as it may be, try to remain calm so that you can support your child and plan a course of action with him or her.
Stay on course. Keep an eye on your child’s behavior. If your meetings with school staff haven’t made the bullying stop, go back and talk to the principal. Follow up on the steps that were agreed to at the meeting.
Speak to the instructor or coach if the bullying is taking place during after-school activities or sports events.
Contact police if the bullying involves criminal behavior, such as sexual assault or use of a weapon, or if the threat to your child’s safety is in the community rather than the school.
How can I help my child deal with bullying?
By working with the school to help your child or teen handle the bullying problem, you are leading by example and giving a clear message that bullying is wrong. Regardless of age, you can help by encouraging your child to talk to you about bullying and by giving the following advice:
Stay calm and walk away from the situation.
Tell an adult whom you trust – a teacher, the principal, the school bus driver or the lunchroom supervisor – about what happened or report it anonymously.
Talk about it with your brothers or sisters, or with friends, so that you don’t feel you’re alone.