Bullying can happen to a child no matter where they go to school, and although you can try to help them know what to do in the moment, it's sometimes necessary as a parent or adult to step in and help. You need some real ways to stop it in its tracks and truly help a child who can't escape the mental, physical and psychological turmoil of being bullied. Since there are laws that protect people from bullying and harassment, you have people on your side to assist you. Here's how to help.
Help Your Child Avoid Bullying
Start by educating your child on how to stop bullying in its tracks.
- Make direct eye contact with the bully and use a calm but firm tone of voice to tell them to stop.
- If joking comes easy, try humor to shift the energy of the moment.
- Don't try to fight the bully. Instead, walk away if possible and find an adult to get help.
- Tell parents or a trustworthy adult about the situation so they can help create a plan to stop it.
- Bullies tend to pick on kids when they're alone, so try to stay near other children and adults.
- Sit near the front of the school bus, or ride the bus with a friend from the neighborhood.
Get the School Involved
If you've tried to help your child on your own, but need a little more assistance, get the school involved in the problem.
- Talking to your child's teacher or the school principal to let them know about the situation. Sometimes they're able to create anti-bullying lessons or programs for the school, and can take action to help a child in direct need.
- Ask the teacher to keep an eye out in class. She can try separating the children or moving their seating positions, which can sometimes stop the problem before it gets out of control.
- If your child is being bullied on the school bus, explain this to the school and find out if they can monitor the bus in some way to catch the bully in the act. If so, the bully could be suspended from riding the bus altogether.
- Get involved in school activities to act as a role model for the kids and an extra set of eyes for the teacher.
- If the school isn't taking appropriate action, try contacting the school superintendent and State Department of Education for help. If the bullying is related to race, color, sex, religion or a disability, and you feel the school is not addressing your complaint, you could even contact the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education or U.S. Department of Justice.
Talk to Your Child About How to Treat Others
As important as it is to make sure your child is not the victim of bullies, it's also important to make sure they are not bullying others or going along with bullies. Talk to you child about the importance of treating others as they would like to be treated. Tell them they should
- Busy themselves with an activity if they feel like being mean to another child, like riding a bike, playing a game, or watching television.
- Think about how every person has their own struggles and challenges in life, and how it's important to have compassion for others.
- Talk to a parent or adult if they are frustrated with a friend or classmate so that they can work on a better way to handle the situation.
- Take a minute to pause before saying or doing something that might hurt or offend someone else.
- Apologize for bullying that may have occurred in the past.
Contact the Authorities
After you've exhausted all other resources to stop a situation with a bully, if there has been a crime, or if your child is in immediate danger, call the police. Let the authorities take over and intervene on your family's behalf and get the law on your side.