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10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Eliminate Bullying (page 2)

10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Eliminate Bullying

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Updated on Apr 11, 2014

Help your child’s school address bullying effectively. 

Whether your kid has been bullied or not, you should know what his school is doing to address bullying. Research shows that “zero-tolerance” policies aren’t effective. What works better are ongoing educational programs that help create a healthy social climate in the school. This means teaching kids at every grade level how to be inclusive leaders, how to be empathic towards others, and teaching victims effective resistance techniques. If your school does not have effective bullying strategies and policies in place, talk to the principal and advocate for change.

Establish household rules about bullying. 

Your child needs to hear from you explicitly that it’s not normal or tolerable for him to bully, to be bullied, or to stand by and just watch other kids be bullied. Make sure he knows that if he is bullied physically, verbally, or socially (at school, by a sibling, in your neighborhood, or online) it’s safe and important for him to tell you about it—and that you will help. He also needs to know just what bullying is, because many children may not understand that bullying is harmful. The healthy habits your practices at home will carry over to other settings.

Teach your child how to be a good witness or positive bystander. 

Research shows that kids who witness bullying feel powerless and seldom intervene. However, kids who take action can have a powerful and positive effect on the situation. Although it’s never a child’s responsibility to put him or herself in danger, kids can often effectively diffuse a bullying situation by yelling “Stop! You’re bullying,” or “Hey, that’s not cool.” Kids can also help each other by providing support to the victim, not giving extra attention to the bully, and/or reporting what they witnessed to an adult.

Teach your child about cyberbullying. 

Cyberbullying includes sending mean, vulgar, or threatening messages or images online, posting private information about another person, pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad, and intentionally excluding someone from an online group. We know from research that the more time a kid spends online, the more likely he is to be cyberbullied—so limit online time. There’s a simple litmus test you can teach your child about online posting: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face or you would not feel comfortable having your parents see it—don’t post it (or take it down immediately).

Spread the word that bullying should not be a normal part of childhood. 

Some adults hesitate to act when they observe or hear about bullying because they think of bullying as a typical phase of childhood that must be endured or that it can help children “toughen up.” It is important for all adults to understand that bullying does not have to be a normal part of childhood. All forms of bullying are harmful to the perpetrator, the victim, and to witnesses and the effects last well into adulthood (and can include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, family violence and criminal behavior). Efforts to effectively address bullying require the collaboration of school, home, and community. Forward this list and articles you’ve read to all the parents, teachers, administrators, after-school care programs, camp counselors, and spiritual leaders you know. Bullying is a serious problem, but if we all work together, it’s one we can change.

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