Look for signs that your child is being bullied:
- Does your child seem more anxious or depressed recently?
- Has your child changed their eating or sleeping habits?
- Is there a noticeable increase or decrease in how much they eat?
- Is your child reluctant to go to school or ride the school bus?
- Has your child stopped enjoying the things they usually like to do?
- Did your child’s personality change from outgoing to shy and fearful?
- Do you notice that your child does not join in group activities anymore?
- Has your child recently given up sports or clubs that they once loved?
- Is your child suddenly afraid of normal social settings?
HOW TO HELP IF YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED
If you notice the bullying warning signs in your child or they tell you that they are being threatened and harassed at school or anywhere else, it is your responsibility to help them. A bullied child is unable to protect themselves if they are alone or if they feel that it is somehow their fault that they are being picked on by others.
Try to make your child feel safe at home, so they trust you enough to tell you what is happening to them at school and everywhere else they go without you. Bullying is not something that a child needs to suffer in silence. It can escalate too quickly into violence or permanent damage to your child’s well-being, such as trouble having trusting relationships.
The more you talk openly with your child, the better the chances are that your child will feel able to tell you the truth about their life and the more you can help them avoid the pain and suffering that can be caused by bullying.
Steps to follow if you think your child is being bullied:
· Comfort and support your children by listening to them.
· Stay calm while letting your child explain what is happening.
· Avoid blaming your child.
· Remind your child that no one deserves to be bullied.
· Find out as much information as you can from your child.
· Talk to your child’s older siblings who may know what is going on at school.
· Do not advise your child to fight back.
· Talk about problem-solving with your child by prompting and encouraging your child to identify possible strategies and solutions. Problem solving consists of first identifying and stating the problem, for example, "So,Bill knocks your book out of your hands in the hallway ..." then prompt and encourage the identification of potential strategies or solutions.
· Role play bullying situations with your child. Practice staying calm. Not showing any feelings will discourage the bullying behavior. Rehearse the bullying situation to teach your child to walk away and avoid anger and possible violence. Practice ignoring verbal abuse or acting unconcerned and running away if they feel they will be physically harmed. Help your child learn how to act unafraid and respond in a non-threatening manner if the bully demands some kind of reply.
· Notify school officials and make it clear that bullying of your child will not be tolerated. Get a plan from school principal that outlines the steps to be taken to intervene in the problem.
· Notify all adults around your child at home, school, and other places your child may be so adults can help protect your child.
· Work with school administrators and teachers to support a bullying prevention program.
· Make your home a safe and non-judgmental environment so your child will feel always feel comfortable and supported.
· Keep communicating openly with your child.
· Discourage any bullying or disrespect in your home between siblings or adults.
· Encourage your child to participate in activities that build self-esteem and confidence. Your child should help choose the activities they want to join. They may include sports, clubs, musical groups such as band or orchestra, or any other group where they can make new social connections and learn new skills.
STRATEGIES THAT CAN HELP PREVENT BULLYING
You may need to try more than one of these anti-bullying strategies to prevent a bully from bothering your child.
Along with anti-bullying strategies that you create with your child, they may also find these methods helpful to reduce the chances that they will be bullied:
· Stay away from locations where the bully may be.
· Stay with friends.
· Do not use a bathroom when a bully is nearby.
· Walk with friends to class.
· Stay close to friends at recess.
· Offer to stay with your friends if they want a buddy.
· All students who bully are different, so you may have to try many different solutions before you find the one that works.
· Be sure to notify your teacher, principal, guidance assistant, and coaches if necessary, of the bullying problem so you have as much help as you can get to solve the problem and prevent potential damage.
WHAT IF MY CHILD IS BULLIES OTHERS?“Your child is a bully”, are four words no parent wants to hear, and your first instinct may be to deny it. However, in order to intervene and change bullying behaviors, parental involvement is essential. It will be important for your child and for the children he or she comes in contact with that the behaviors are addressed immediately. Children who bully are high risk for other types of dangerous behaviors.
Aggressive behavior often starts early in a child's life. Although it is normal for young children to hit, fight, and argue with each other, most will learn to control these impulses. You can help your child understand that his or her words and actions affect other people. You play an important role in making your child aware of others' feelings.
You may learn from other parents or a school official that your child has been acting aggressively, or you may notice some changes in your child’s behavior. Your child may be bullying another child if he or she:
· Comes home from school with extra money or "new" toys, books, or clothes.
· Is cruel or mean when talking about other children, for example name-calling.
· Excludes other children from activities.
· If you see or hear about any of this behavior, take action.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOUR CHILD IS BULLYING OTHERS
- Talk with your child. Listen calmly and openly to their account of the situation and explanation for their behavior. Ask questions to find out what is going on in your child's life. It may be that your child is being bullied and is dealing with it by targeting other children. Or your child may not yet know the importance of understanding the feelings of others.
- Help your child understand how their behavior hurts other children.
- Establish clear consequences for aggressive behavior for example the loss of privileges and make it clear that bullying is unacceptable. You can help your child by setting rules, supervising activities, and leading by example. Control your anger, and show sensitivity and respect for others.
- Model nonviolent behavior in your household; do not punish him or her with physical force, such as spanking. Physical punishment only strengthens the belief that people can get what they want through aggression.
Cyberbullying is bullying, or mean-spirited behavior, that takes place using electronic technology. Examples include mean text messages, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, “burn pages” on Facebook, embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake online profiles. Attacks often get more frequent overtime and use more than one kind of communication. They may be from more than one person.
HOW CAN I HELP KEEP MY CHILD SAFE?
It's 10:00 pm. Do you know where your child is online?
· Keep your child’s computer in a shared space so you can monitor their activity.
· If you don’t know how to use the mobile device, website, or computer your child is using, ask them to teach you. There is nothing embarrassing about asking. In fact, they might enjoy teaching you.
· Know the websites your child visits and their electronic activities. Get familiar with chat rooms, texting, emailing, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, etc.
· Have your child show you their profile page, but realize that they may have more than one identity set up, so they may not be showing you the one their friends see.
· Ask your child to show you what they are doing to protect their identity online.
· Update privacy settings. Make sure they don’t share their passwords with friends.
· Ask for your child’s passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
· Do an online search with your child’s name to see what information lives online. You may find more information if you include a city or school name.
· Help your child understand the consequences of sharing personal information, photographs, or videos of themselves.
DID YOU KNOW?
· Cyberbullying may start as early as 4th grade and is common in middle grades.
· Nearly 50% of teens have been victims of cyberbullying.
· Messages, photos and videos can be sent anonymously and forwarded to many people very easily.
· Cyberbullying may lead to depression, low self-esteem, health problems, poor grades or suicidal thoughts.
· Someone who is bullied is more likely to turn to alcohol or drug abuse.
· Cyberbullying may be a crime.
· Most children are too scared to tell their parents about being cyberbullied.
· TAKE ACTION
· Encourage your children to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, are being bullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.
· Tell your children not to respond to threats or bullying comments online. However, DO NOT DELETE the messages. Instead, print them out. You will need this to prove exactly what is happening.
· Block the person who is bullying.
For more information on what you can do to prevent and respond to bullying visit:Additional Resources:District Anti-bullying Policy - Solana Beach School District Board Policy 5131.2 Bullying
Nancy Lynch, Ed.D., Superintendent - Presentation Winter 2013
Learn How to Protect Your Kids Online - San Diego Police Foundation - Parent Guide (In English and Spanish)
Solana Beach School District Commitment to Prevention of Bullying
KnowBullying App (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)