Let’s face it: It’s hard to admit that you’re being bullied. In fact, most kids won't bring it up, so parents must arm themselves with information.
There's no magic bullet for warding off bullies. Every playground, classroom, and social networking site has its fair share of mean guys and girls. But thanks to a newfound sense of awareness and concern, families are taking a stand and working together to end bullying. Ready to join the movement? Read on.
Spot the Signs of Bullying
Bullying comes in many forms: physical, social, and psychological, ranging from hitting and threatening to shunning and spreading rumors.
About 60% of kids don't tell an adult if they are being bullied. Many kids don't report it because they worry that nothing will be done or that they will be partially blamed, says Matt Woolley, PhD, child and adolescent psychologist with Huntsman Mental Health Institute. He points out that most bullying at schools isn’t physical but is instead social, often called "social aggression." It’s difficult to tell when someone has been bullied since there’s no physical evidence.
If your child exhibits signs of moodiness, anxiety, loss of appetite, and lack of sleep, he or she may be a victim of bullying. Take note if your child tries to avoid normal activities like soccer practice or riding the school bus.
It may be difficult, but parents also need to be on the lookout for signs that their child is doing the bullying. These include physical or verbal altercations, increased aggression, frequent trips to the principal's office, and unexplained new belongings or extra cash.
If you think your child is involved in bullying, the most important thing to do is to recognize it. Never ignore bullying and never tell your children to tough it out or fight back. Instead, try these tips to help your son or daughter respond in a safe way:
Get the Facts
Gather all the information you can about the bullying. Find out who is involved, how frequently it happens, and where it occurs.
Talk With Your Child
Help your child understand that being bullied is not a sign of weakness. Explain that many bullies try to feel better about themselves by psychologically or physically controlling others.
Create a Safe Environment
Find healthy activities for your child to participate in, bully-free. Talk to your child about where to go for help if bullying occurs.
Monitor Social Networking Sites
Keep tabs on your child's online activity for signs of visual or verbal harassment.
Learn the Laws
If you've done all you can to reach out to school or program officials and your child is still at risk, you may need to contact legal authorities. Learn about your state's bullying laws at stopbullying.gov/laws.