Certainly as parents we all realize bullying at school is on the rise. School bullying statistics for some countries of the world are now citing figures as high as 25%, or one in four children attending school are either bully victims, are engaged in bullying themselves, or are both! The chances are very high, and increasing all the time, that you may be facing an incident of bullying at some point during your child’s time spent in the public or private education system.
As a parent do you even know what signs or symptoms to look for when dealing with bullying at school or how to support a victim of school bullying?
7 Key Indicators Of Bullying At School
1. Child is afraid to go to school.
2. Child often feels ill on school mornings.
3. Child is skipping school or classes.
4. Grades in school suddenly dropping.
5. Trouble sleeping or nightmares.
6. Becoming a “loner” and avoiding social activities.
7. Talking openly about suicide or attempting it.
Obviously there are more than just 7 indicators of this type of bullying and common sense tells us these are just guidelines. As caring parents, who know our children, we always must be on the alert for unnatural behaviors in our children that would give us clues that something is seriously wrong.
Positive Support For Victims Of School Bullying
Often when faced with evidence of this inappropriate behavior, as parents we allow our emotions rather than our brains to control how we react. Worst thing we can do! Often this will make things even more stressful for the child. As difficult as it may be at the time (and yes, I have been there too, as both a parent and an educator), you must put the needs of the victim first!
1. Comfort the child. Let them know that you are there for them, you care for them, and you will keep them safe.
2. Address any safety concerns. Take any necessary steps to ensure your child is kept safe, including contacting the school and enlisting help from teachers and support staff.
3. Discuss effective bullying responses with your child to help them deal with face to face situations with the bully. These responses may differ depending on whether you are dealing with bullying at the middle school or bullying in high school.
Negative Support For Victims Of School Bullying
Whether your child is a victim of bullying at the middle school or bullying in high school, the following “pitfalls” or negative support must be avoided.
1. Never try and justify the bully’s behavior! Let you child know that any bullying is wrong and no one deserves to be bullied!
2. Very important that you resist the urge to try and solve the problem for your child, unless they are in serious physical danger, as this tells the bully that your child is indeed “helpless”.
3. Telling the child to simply avoid the bully will not solve the problem and generally only works for a short time.
4. Never, never tell your child to fight back! Most bullies are bigger and stronger, and are looking for an excuse to physically punish their victim and impress their peer group.
5. Don’t confront the bully or the bully’s parents alone. Their reactions may be hostile rather than sympathetic, which could make things even worse for both you and your child. If a meeting is necessary, enlist the help of a third party such as the school administration or teacher to mediate the meeting and keep things under control.
Parents learning how to recognize the signs of bullying at school, and supporting a child victimized by school bullying, are important first steps, but not the end of the problem. Teaching the targeted child effective ways to empower themselves to deal with bullying at the middle school, or bullying in high school, is giving them a vital personal skill set necessary to cope with this worsening social problem in our school system.