There are many ideas for how parents should address and handle their children being bullied. We have added a few different approaches that hopefully give you an idea of how to address this terrorizing issue that your child is facing on a regular basis and have sourced as well as added the webpage where this information comes from. The most important start when dealing with your child is to (a) listen to them, listen to them, listen to them, (b) be there for them and work with them so that they fell that they are not alone, and (c) deal with it until the issue is completely finished and has stopped. You must show your child that the terrorist or bully cannot and will not get away from this criminal activity. If you do not help the ongoing bulling and terrorizing activities, that they face each and every day, they may and usually will have a hard time developing and growing into a positive and strong person. In reality your reactions can make or break your child’s future.
Parental Solution #1 - Watch and Listen
To help your children with the ideas of stopping them from being bullied it all starts by listening more to your children. Here are a few helpful ideas to help build empathy and prevent bullying behaviour:
- Ask the child directly: Often children do not wish to tell their parents due to shame and embarrassment, or fear that bullies will retaliate if they tell. Look for signs such as: fear of going to school, lack of friends, missing belongings and torn clothing, and increased fearfulness and anxiety.
- Be a positive role model: Recognize your role in modeling positive relationships. Set a good example and reinforce positive behaviour when you see it.
- Communicate: A child or youth who exhibits bullying behaviour needs to be able to talk about their own experiences. During a quiet time of day, establish an open, friendly, non-threatening line of communication.
- Do something fun together: Fun activities and positive attention build confidence, positive pathways, and encourage empathy and compassion for others.
- Help them make good friends: If your child is timid, and lacks friends, try to arrange for your child participate in positive social groups which meet his or her interests. Developing your child's special skills and confidence in the context of a positive social group can be very helpful.
- Help your school implement a comprehensive anti-bullying program: A home-and school association meeting to discuss and support such an initiative can be helpful.
- Make amends and be friends: Teach the child or youth ways to make amends for past behaviour (e.g., to apologize, or do something helpful or nice), and help them connect with others who have the same interests in play and learning.
- See the child inside the bully: Often, a child or youth who exhibits bullying behaviour has been bullied in the past. In a non-judgmental way, try to find out what the child or youth is feeling, and if something has happened to make him or her feel vulnerable.
- Set consistent consequences: Send the message that damaging behaviour is unacceptable. Withdraw privileges and replace with instructive activities, like reading, to redirect negative energy.
- Teach empathy: Read stories about bullying, identify how each child feels in the interaction, draw pictures, and role play, with the child and adult exchanging roles, discussing how each feels. Help them to see the victim’s point of view, and how hurtful and damaging bullying can be.
- Teach leadership: Provide activities and opportunities that channel energy into constructive leadership situations.
- Work together: Parents, caregivers, communities and schools must work together to prevent and stop bullying. If you think a child or youth is exhibiting bullying behaviour, contact the school and parents to monitor the situation.
- Work with the school immediately: to make sure your child is safe, that effective consequences are applied toward the bully, and that monitoring at school is adequate. Advocate for involvement of the bully's parents. If the bullying is happening on the way to and from school, arrange for the child to get to school with older, supportive children, or take him or her until other interventions can take place.
Parental Solution #2 – Suggestions for parents when dealing with bullying
By Brenda High, Director, Bully Police USA – (Source: www.jaredstory.com)
The formation below from “Suggestions for parents when dealing with bullying” is thankfully drawn from the website www.jaredstory.com
Get the story of the bullying as correct as possible from your child
Listen to your child with your heart and with your mind. Let your child know they have done the right thing by coming to talk to you and that you will find a way to help solve this problem. Get your child's ideas on what they think is the best action to take. Your child is feeling like they have lost control of their school life and that someone else, the bully, is controlling them. Let them know that you will be on their side, (their “lawyer”) and will find a solution. Ask for their cooperation if there needs to be minor changes on their part, (i.e. a few changes in behaviour, dress, or social skills).
Think about how you will approach the school
If the school has no knowledge that your child being bullied, then it is fair to give the school a reasonable amount of time to work out minor problems to your child's and your satisfaction as a parent. A reasonable amount of time might be three days or one week.
Request a daily update from your school, and from the teacher, if the bullying happened in his/her classroom. A “fair” amount of time is about one school week. Remind your school that every day your child is being bullied is like an eternity to him/her and your child wants the bullying to stop.
Pretend you are a lawyer and put EVERYTHING in writing. Tape record statements, type them up and have witnesses sign the statements. Take pictures of injuries, places (buildings), people, etc.
Enough cannot be said about documentation. Getting the dates, times, locations, and names, not only of the bullying incidents, but also those you talked to at the school. Write down any information that you feel important for reference later, especially any comments made by the principal, superintendent, teachers, etc.
After communicating with an administrator, write a recap of what was said. Fax a copy to the administrator and ask them to correct or change anything that is incorrect or any misunderstandings. Let the administrator know that you will be doing this so that he/she is clear about your desire to solve the bullying. This will assure all parties involved that solutions to the bullying of your child are what you want for an outcome.
Try hard to control the anger you may be having over the bullying. The “poison pen” document full of anger will not accomplish anything and administrator and teachers may have the natural reaction to become angry back. We are all human, well most of us are all human? Administrators will be more willing to help if you act and write statements about your child's bullying situation in a mature and diplomatic way. Keeping and sharing detailed documents will help the school admit that they have a problem with bullying and that they must take responsibility
Online Bullying or Cyberbullying
If your child is being bullied online, copy EVERYTHING. Save all emails or instant-message conversations.
You may feel that you cannot do anything about online bullying because you cannot find the cyberbully. This may not always be true. Computer specialists can track down internet provider addresses of offending websites, and there are computer whizzes that are making a living off fines collected from email spammers. Some police departments have hired these specialists to work in their criminal investigation departments and a good computer and internet investigator is in high demand. If your son or daughter is getting threatening email, your local police department may be able to help or lead you to a private investigator with computer skills. If the emails are terrorist type threats, report this immediately to the police, who will then report it to the F.B.I.
Parents sign a service agreement when they sign up for internet services
Here are some examples of service agreements with internet providers and/or hosts to websites, (i.e. AOL, MSN, XO, Earthlink, etc.)
WebPages - By applying to register a domain name, or by asking us to maintain or renew a domain name registration, you hereby represent and warrant to us that (a) the statements that you made in connection with such application for registration, maintenance, or renewal are complete and accurate; (b) to your knowledge, the registration of the domain name will not infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights of any third party; (c) you are not registering the domain name for an unlawful purpose; and (d) you will not knowingly use the domain name in violation of any applicable laws or regulations. You agree and acknowledge that it is your responsibility to determine whether your domain name registration infringes or violates someone else's rights...
YOU REPRESENT THAT, TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF, NEITHER THE REGISTRATION OF THE DOMAIN NAME YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR NOR THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS INTENDED TO BE OR IS DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY USED INFRINGES THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF A THIRD PARTY.
How law enforcement can get your information - …may disclose personal information about Visitors or Members, or information regarding your use of the Services or Web sites accessible through our Services, for any reason if, in our sole discretion, we believe that it is reasonable to do so, including: to satisfy laws, such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, regulations, or governmental or legal requests for such information; to disclose information that is necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against someone who may be violating our Acceptable Use Policy or other user policies; to operate the Services properly; or to protect our Members.
The parents of students who are doing the bullying may be liable for the emotional damages caused by their child to another child. If the cyberbullys’ parents know what is going on (or had received a letter of complaint), they have “knowledge and notice” of harmful activity. The parents are paying for the telephone bill and internet charges into their home – they are legally responsible for the acts of their children while on the computer and in their care. Parents can be sued for damages.
Inform your school administrators about the cyberbullying your child is experiencing. If cyberbullying happens on school time or with school computers, schools come under the “knowledge and notice” rule. If, while a child is being cyberbullied, he/she is threatened to be “beat up” or assaulted while they are in school, the schools must take responsibility for activities that follow a child from their home to their school.
Parental Solution #3 - What Parents Can Do To Prevent Bullying
Addressing the signs of bullying early, before the behaviour and its impact get worse, is important to creating a safe and caring school and community.
As a parent, you can help to prevent bullying by teaching your children how to:
- Be caring of others
- Get along
- Deal with angry feelings
- Be assertive without being aggressive in standing up for themselves
Children need to understand how important it is to report bullying. Parents can help by encouraging children to talk about what is happening at school, in their neighbourhoods, on the bus, etc. As well, it is important to teach children the difference between telling and tattling.
- Tattling is reporting to an adult about someone else’s behaviour in order to get them in trouble.
- Telling is reporting to a responsible adult about someone else’s behaviour in order to help someone – themselves or someone else.
As the parent of a secondary school student, you will continue to monitor and supervise your child’s activities. Aside from representing your children, your role will be to help them build the skills to act on their own behalf. When something goes wrong at school, they need to know where they can turn for guidance and support, and what action to expect. Parents and families can help children understand the importance of reporting harassment and guide them through the complaint and investigation process.
Listen carefully to your child
Young children may be reluctant to report bullying, or may not even recognize it. They may think:
- they will suffer retaliation
- the problem isn’t that bad, it’s part of life
- they do not want to be seen as a ratter or tattler
- you, as the adult, will make the situation worse
- even with your help, they will not be protected
- the bullying is their fault
Many secondary school students are reluctant to have their parents and families involved. They may think:
- You will make the situation worse
- Even with your help their concerns will be ignored by the school
- They will suffer retaliation
- The problem isn’t that bad
- They can handle the problem themselves
Children will talk about the harassment when they know you will listen and help. As you listen and talk to your child, the conversation will help you determine your level of involvement. Consider the following questions:
- Does my child need my help or protection?
- How can I help my child stay safe?
- What information do I need?
- Where can I go for help?
Decide how you can help
When your child’s safety or ability to function at school is affected, intervention is vital. How you intervene is just as important. When talking to your child about reporting the situation, explain the difference between “ratting” and “reporting.” Ratting or snitching is a negative label used by the harasser to discourage children from reporting. It takes courage to report. Reporting is done to help keep someone safe.
When your child is the victim
Work with your child to bolster confidence and find ways to deal with the problem. By the time you know that your child is being bullied, it is likely that he or she has tried many ways to solve the problem. Standing up to a harasser may make things worse. Talk to your child about how the incident could be reported.
If your child is the victim of bullying, encourage him/her to report it as soon as possible. Parents of primary/elementary students should contact the school as soon as possible. If your child is older, you may wish to discuss with them how you will proceed. Your child’s teacher, guidance counsellor and/or principal are able to work with you to determine:
- Who will look into your complaint, and when
- When will that person get back to you
- What information can you expect
- How will the school, now that it is aware of the problem, keep your child safe while the problem is being investigated (for example, supervision of the alleged bully)
- How will your child’s identity and privacy be protected to prevent retaliation
- What services are available in the school or school district should your child need emotional or psychological support
You may request:
- An immediate investigation of the situation
- A commitment that retribution for making the complaint will not occur, or will be dealt with immediately should it occur
- A plan of action to prevent further bullying of your child and others
- Appropriate counselling for your child to deal with the effects of the bullying
- Information about outside agencies (e.g., police, mental health) if referral is appropriate
- A transfer, if the fear of bullying is preventing your child from attending school
You and your child may also request (and will want to request in more serious cases):
- A person of your choice to accompany you to all meetings
- Information on how the investigation will be kept confidential
- Minutes of all meetings
Gather support outside the school
The school has the primary responsibility to act on your child’s concerns about safety within the school setting. When and how the school involves outside agencies depends on how the school views the severity of the incidents. It also depends on the relationships and protocols your school/district has developed with outside agencies.
If at any time you believe your child is in danger, make a report directly to your local police. It helps to have a written record of the incidents and your actions to solve the problem.
When your child is the bystander
Encourage your child to report bullying and practice skills that will help them develop the confidence to speak up. Many elementary school students are reluctant and fearful to step in when they see someone else being bullied. They may believe:
- The bully will turn on them
- They will make it worse for the victim
- The situation may get worse and they will get into trouble
- There will be no support or action from other students or from the adults
Bullying affects everyone. It is up to everyone to create safety at school. Silence only makes the problem worse.
When you encourage your child to report bullying, make sure the same safeguards are in place for your child as for the victim. Your child’s teacher, guidance counsellor and/or principal are able to work with you to determine:
- Who will look into your complaint, and when?
- When will that person get back to you?
- What information can you expect?
- How will the school, now that it is aware of the problem, keep your child safe while the problem is being investigated (for example, supervision of the alleged bully)?
- How will your child’s identity and privacy be protected to prevent retaliation?
- What services are available in the school or school district should your child need emotional or psychological support?
When your child is the bully
Your child and the school need your support to effectively address bullying, and to provide a safe place for all students and staff. You can help by remaining calm and working with the school to find out why your child bullies others. You may also work with your child to find ways to make amends to the victim. Remember, it is not your child who is unacceptable; it is the behaviour. Support your child in seeking fair treatment during any investigation or discipline process. Schools are encouraged to try alternatives to out-of-school suspensions.
If an investigation or discipline (including suspension) takes place, you should know that:
- The school must provide curriculum missed to suspended students under 16 years of age.
- There may be services available to your child, such as a psychological assessment or referral to an outside agency that will help your child recognize the seriousness of the behaviour and keep it from happening again.
- Your child can choose a parent or other support person to be present at all meetings and interviews.
- You should be informed of the appeal procedure.
Whether your child is a victim, bully or bystander, programs may be available in your school district to help. These may include:
- Bully prevention
- Anger management
- Conflict resolution
- Restorative justice
- School counselling
- Peer counselling
- Peer mediation
- Social responsibility programs
Parental Solution #4 -What Parents Can do about their Bullying Child
Sometimes a child can become a bully at school and come from a stable home. There can be a number of reasons as to why a child from a good home becomes a bully and it is ideal for the parents to find out why their child had chosen to bully others. Many times a parent may not realize that the cause is right in front of their nose until the fact their child is a bully is brought to their attention and they talk to their child about their behavior.
And yes, it can be rather devastating for a parent to learn that their child is a bully. It is easy to want to be angry with the other kids or the adult bringing the news to the parent, but it is ideal to be realistic about the situation. Every parent has to admit that their child is not always perfect and should intervene to ensure that their child is corrected in their actions. If they are not corrected, their own actions could become violent or drive another student to become violent at school.
Here are some ways a parent can help their bullying child:
- Talk to your child about specific incidents in which they bullied another child. Ask questions that will help you to determine the reasons behind your child’s bullying. Discuss options that will serve as alternatives to being a bully. This is the perfect opportunity to role-play ways in which your child can interact with other children.
- If you don’t have close friend or family that have older children your child can spend time with, look into a program such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters so that your child can learn better social skills by example.
- If you must resort to disciplinary action, harsh punishment can add to the already existing harsh behavior. Do such things as having your child write a note of apology to the child they are bullying, remove certain things your child likes such as video games, or give the child chores without an allowance.
- Try to remove your child from situations that may encourage him or her to become violent, such as restricting socializing with friends who may be violent. This is a good time to look into organized youth activities through churches, hospitals, youth organizations, and even the school.
- You may want to consider enrolling your child into an activity such as martial arts that teaches discipline and that violence is not the solution to problems.
When a parent is proactive in teaching their child that bullying is not the answer, a very bad situation can be avoided. Being that school violence most stems from bullying, lives could be saved.
What to do if Your Child is Aggressive or Bullies Others?
Take the problem seriously. Children and youth who bully others often get into serious trouble in later life, and may receive criminal convictions. They may have continuing trouble in their relationships with others. Here are some things you can do to turn the situation around.
· Arrange for an effective, non-violent consequence, which is in proportion with the severity of your child's actions, and his or her age and stage of development. Corporal punishment carries the message that "might is right."
· Co-operate with the school in modifying your child's aggressive behaviour. Frequent communication with teachers and/or administrators is important to find out how your child is doing in changing his or her behaviour.
· If your child is viewing violent television shows, including cartoons, and is playing violent video games, this will increase violent and aggressive behaviour. Change family and child's viewing and play patterns to non-violent ones.
· Increase your supervision of your child's activities and whereabouts, and who they are associating with. Spend time with your child, and set reasonable rules for their activities and curfews.
· Make it clear to your child that you will not tolerate this kind of behaviour, and discuss with your child the negative impact bullying has on the victims. Do not accept explanations that "it was all in fun."
· Make sure that your child is not seeing violence between members of his or her family. Modeling of aggressive behaviour at home can lead to violence by the child against others at school and in later life.
· Praise the efforts your child makes toward non-violent and responsible behaviour, as well as for following home and school rules. Keep praising any efforts the child makes.
· Seek help from a school psychologist, social worker, or children's mental health centre in the community if you would like support in working with your child.
· Talk to your child, talk to his or her teachers and administrators. Keep in mind that a bully will try to deny or minimize his or her wrong-doing.
Parental Solution # -Let's Stop Bullying - Tips for Parents on Dealing with Bullying
· Teach your child to report bullying to a trusted adult, and to be specific about what is happening. Saying, “She calls me names” or “He threatens to hurt me” is more effective than “She’s bugging me!”
· Let children know that you will take concerns seriously and take action to protect them. Often, kids feel powerless when bullied, and presume no one can help them.
· Find out about the bullying and harassment policy in your children’s school, clubs and sport teams. If there isn’t one, offer to form a group to create one. (If you don’t know where to start, Red Cross RespectED offers workshops and consultation to help organizations and schools create effective policies.)
· Understand the difference between tattling and telling. Tattlers are trying to get someone else in trouble for breaking a rule. Telling is when a child lets an adult know that something bad is happening, and that help is needed to stop it.
· Bystanders usually encourage bullying, even when they hate it. Teach your child to be a positive bystander. If they see someone being bullied, they should not watch, laugh or join in. Instead, they should make it clear that they are on the side of the victim, not the bully—and they should tell an adult what they saw or heard.
· Model respectful behaviour at home and in your daily interactions – children often emulate the behaviours of adults close to them.
If your child is being bullied:
· Assure your child that bullying is not his/her fault, and that everyone deserves respect.
· Explain that using fists or insults as protection against bullying is not a good solution—it could make things worse (and get your child in trouble).
· Remind children to ignore teasing by turning their heads or walking away. Humour can sometimes defuse the situation, too.
· Teach assertiveness skills … your child should know he or she has the right to stand up to the bully and say “Stop it!” without being aggressive. You could explain it like this: “Say it like you mean it, but not in a mean voice.”
· If bullying is happening at school, let the school know—they may be unaware, and insist that they follow their policy guidelines.
· Talk with the child about ways to avoid the bully. Making a plan of action can make the child feel empowered, even if at first it seems unfair to have to.
· Help your child with their self-esteem by valuing their contributions and achievements. If they are socially isolated at school, get them involved in community activities that will allow them to socialize and build confidence.
Let's Stop Bullying - Tips for Youth on Dealing with Bullying
· Remember that being bullied is not your fault, and there’s nothing wrong with you - no one deserves to be bullied!
· Bullying isn’t just physical violence - threatening someone, laughing at them, taunting them, starting nasty rumours about them or not letting them hang out with you or your friends is all bullying.
· Tell an adult you trust if you are being bullied, or someone else is. Keep telling until you get help.
· Call the Kids Help Line 1-800-668-6868 for support - it’s free and confidential.
· Don’t bully the bully. Using insults or fighting back will make the problem worse.
· Use humour - say something funny to take the sting out of teasing; try not to take it personally, get upset or show hurt feelings.
· If the bullying is making you afraid or very upset, have a teacher or an adult help you with a safety plan. You may have to change your route home, or avoid being where the bully is, until the problem is solved. Don’t think of it as acting scared - think of it as acting smart!
· Refuse to go along with bullying - bystanders who laugh, agree or cheer only encourage the bully’s bad behaviour. Instead, take the victim’s side; if you feel safe doing so, tell the bully to stop. Report what you see or hear to an adult.
· Ask your school to form an anti-bullying committee with representation from teachers, parents and students
· Treat people the way you want to be treated.
· Remember, you have the right to be treated with respect and feel safe!