The sad truth is that for many children, bullying is an unfortunate experience that occurs at school. No one deserves to be bullied or have someone be mean to them, but believe it or not, 77 percent of school aged children are bullied in some manner, including mental, verbal and physical abuse. That statistic comes from the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, which notes that 43 percent of students also report online abuse; this means that cyberbullying is on the rise.
A safe and supportive environment is crucial to proper child development and a positive learning environment. If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing bullying at school, check out these tips on what you can do.
Ask Your School to Investigate
It’s important to remember that not all bad behavior is actually an instance of bullying, but schools take accusations seriously and investigate all potential leads. Reporting a concern to a teacher, administrator or counselor will launch an investigation that can uncover the truth regarding the situation. Teachers, administrators and school counselors are trained to recognize behavior patterns and identify bullying at its earliest stages, but occasionally, things can go unseen. That’s where students and parents come into play to help identify potential issues.
Sometimes, kids are simply just mean to each other, but an occasional instance of hurtful behavior is not the same as bullying. Often, school administrators and teachers can also shed some light on the situation, and help you better understand what is happening at school and how to address it to provide a more positive environment for your child. In general, bullying is identified through three specific behaviors/situations:
- An imbalance of power
- Repeated hurtful behavior
- An intention to cause harm
Essentially, this means that those children (or even adults) who engage in bullying are typically physically larger, potentially older, and possibly more popular than the victim. However, this is just one generalization. In fact, popular students can be bullied, too, and many report being targeted because of their popularity. These bullying behaviors also indicate that the hurtful behavior isn’t a one time instance of something negative being said in a heated moment; instead, it’s repeated behavior that has a specific goal to cause harm to the victim, mentally, physically, or emotionally.
Consult a Professional
If you have determined that someone is involved with a situation of bullying, you should always seek help from a trained professional to manage it. A trained professional might include your pediatrician, therapist or another medical professional. But, you might also receive assistance from administrators, school counselors, and teachers at your school, who can help monitor the situation daily. Strategies for managing both bullying situations and a singular instance of negativity can be helpful to children learning how to understand social dynamics in school.
Talk to Your Child about Bullying & Bad Behavior
It’s important to really talk with your child about bullying in general and bad behavior in general. Discussing specific instances that may occur so that you get a better understanding of what is happening in your child’s school life, even if they are situations that involve friends or classmates. Asking questions can sometimes lead to details that allow adults, including the trained professionals who are involved, to determine solutions and provide tips on how to manage a difficult situation. As a parent, you can share this information with doctors and counselors to assist in managing negative situations.
Talk to the Other Child’s Parents
Having a conversation with the family of the other child involved in the bullying or bad behavior can be helpful. It’s important to remember that no one wants to hear that their child is acting inappropriately, so the way you approach this situation is important, and you might ask the school or a counselor to support you. If you do go it alone, instead of automatically accusing the other child of bullying, you might consider approaching the conversation from a more collaborative angle. Mentioning that you’ve noticed some strain between the two children, and that you’d like to help them get along better can sometimes work to open up a dialogue. Pointing fingers from the start, however, can sometimes make the other party shut down and defend their own child instead of engaging in more constructive conversation that could actually help you find a common solution to the problem.
Think about Solutions
While the goal is to find a solution to the problem and end it, sometimes, that’s just not possible. As a parent, you need to determine if your child’s school can adequately address the problem. While for some it may feel drastic, sometimes, a classroom change or separating students at recess or lunch can eliminate a difficult situation like bullying. Simply reducing the ability for the two parties to come into contact can sometimes make an immediate improvement, which then allows the school to focus on promoting good behavior from the student engaging in bullying while the victim is removed from the situation completely. There may also be suggestions from a trained professional of strategies the victim can employ when faced with a bully, or even just bad behavior. Not everyone knows what to do, and better understanding what your options are can make a huge difference.