As we continue exploring the topic of bullying, we continue with prevention methods. As a refresher, there are four types of bullying defined by the National Centre Against Bullying, or NCAB: physical bullying, verbal bullying, social bullying, and cyberbullying. Each type of bullying has its own prevalence and examples within them, and it is important to understand them as it will help you prevent it.
Bullying is a serious issue today, as it has lasting negative effects on the child, whether they are the bully or the one bullied. The CDC has observed that: “even youth who have observed, but not participated in bullying behavior, report significantly more feelings of helplessness with a lesser sense of connectedness and support from responsible adults than youth who have not witnessed bullying behavior.”
The effects of bullying not only extends to the children involved but their families. Many families have the same feeling of helplessness or powerlessness when a family member is bullied in school. They want to interfere and protect their family but often do not have the means to do so or are fearful that it will lead to a higher level of bullying.
This does not mean that as a parent or bystander you should do nothing. To start, you need to learn to recognize the signs of bullying if you have not witnessed it yourself, or if your child has not told you that they are being bullied. With each type of bullying, there are signs that you can pick up in your child’s mood and behavior. For noticing the signs of bullying, we suggest that you look at the NCAB’s list, but some examples are:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in eating patterns
- Has unexplained bruises, cuts, scratches
- Comes home with missing or damaged belongings or clothes
- Doesn’t want to go to school
- School grades begin to fall
If you have noticed these signs or any from the NCAB list, you should try to open up a dialogue with your child. Listening calmly and letting them tell the whole story is critical because you want to encourage your children to come to you and know they are safe in talking about it.
The next step is to continue the dialogue and assure them that what is happening is not okay and the way they feel is valid. Then begin to develop a plan with the child. They should feel a sense of ownership in the plan, because being part of the solution will empower them to begin to take control of the situation and reduce their feelings of helplessness.
After you’ve established that bullying is happening, who’s responsible and how the bullying is being done, it’s important to let the school administrators know what’s happening. If they are unaware that bullying is occurring, the details of what’s happened will let them take steps to ensure your child’s safety and give them the opportunity to address it with the parents of the child that’s bullying. The information will also allow them to have a more watchful eye on the overall behavior of the kids in school.
As a parent, having regular conversations around what’s happening in school along with openly discussing bullying can help your child understand that when something happens, they have a safe outlet to discuss it. Talk about the types of bullying with them, the impact that bullying can have on everyone that’s involved, even if they are just watching it happen. Give them ideas on how to safely respond or report what’s happening. Help your child understand how to handle the situation, such as fogging or responses that will de-escalate the situation. This will help everyone in the family feel more empowered.
In the final article in this series, we will discuss how virtual school is an alternative for your child’s education.