Parents: Are you afraid your child is the victim of a bully? Do you recognize the signs? * Comes home with torn or damaged clothing, destroyed or missing materials * Has unexplained cuts or bruises * Has few friends that he/she spends free time with * Doesn't want to go to school or participate in extra school activities * Isn't doing well in school * Seems sad or detached * Doesn't sleep well at night * Loss of appetite Talk about heartbreaking! There seems to be very few things that can hurt a parent more than having their child picked on by other kids. You, as the parent and/or educator, want to fix their problems, especially if they are being bullied. You want to protect the child and not let someone destroy their self-esteem.
Being bullied is senseless. And, it is devastating. The old saying of "sticks and stones" just isn't true.
A physical bruise from a bike accident will heal. The act of cruelty can follow us into adulthood. So, what is a parent or teacher to do? Some children may be afraid or embarrassed to report bully issues. They may think parents will be ashamed of them or embarrassed that their child is being picked on.
Kids may also fear that parental involvement will only make matters worse. Regardless of the reasons, staying silent will only result in continued harassment. Talk to your children. Make sure children are comfortable with reporting any type of bully behavior. Explain that it is the job of a parent to decide the course of action to be taken. Help them to trust that you will be there to support them unconditionally and will only make decisions in their best interest.
Some children may feel they are tattling. Explain the difference between tattling and telling. If they are simply trying to get someone in trouble, that is tattling. If they feel hurt or threatened by the behavior of others, that is telling. Telling is important so an escalation of the situation is prevented and the issue can be handled early and correctly by a responsible adult. If your child is being "picked on," talk to the school.
Teacher involvement is crucial. Ask about a buddy system during the time when the bullying is occurring. School staff is very familiar with the children and most likely will have suggestions as to other children in the school which will eagerly help. The school staff will also monitor the situation much more closely.
Most schools have educational materials and/or peer mediations that support non-threatening resolutions. If they do, become familiar with the materials and procedures. Get involved. If they don't, research the information and schedule a meeting with the school staff. Help the school implement personal safety education and a safe outlet for kids to turn when they need help resolving a conflict.
The first step is to get your child to talk to you or the teacher. The next step is to communicate with each other, school staff and parents. Your children have a right to feel safe at school, through communication and education, adults must assure this.
Chris Lowrey Author/Editor of Family Time Charm A truly unique family magazine. Family Time Charm is designed for the entire family. For more parenting articles, fun games for kids and educational activities for all, visit: http://www.familytimecharm.com