What do I do if my child tells me that he or she is being bullied?
Communicate With and Support Your Child
- First, focus on your child. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying.1
- Reassure your child that sharing this information is not the same as tattling.2
- Adults must ensure that the trust implicit in disclosures of bullying is not violated.3
- Address these experiences as soon as they arise. For example, checking in with children at the end of the day can include conversation about academic subjects as well as peer relationships. Questions such as:
- 'What did you do at recess today?"
- "How is your friend (name) doing these days?" may encourage children to discuss their friendship experiences with their parents.4
- When children express negative emotions about their peers, it is helpful to acknowledge these feelings, encourage them that it's normal to feel this way, and discuss practical strategies together, especially those that the child considers most helpful.4
Help your child become more resilient to bullying.
- Help to develop talents or positive attributes of your child. Doing so may help your child be more confident among his or her peers.
- Make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment where he or she can take shelter, physically and emotionally.
- Always maintain open lines of communication with your child.1
- Encourage your child to stick with a friend at recess, lunch, in the hallways, on the bus or walking home because she is more likely to be targeted when she is alone.
- Arrange opportunities for your child to socialize with his or her friends outside of school to help him or her maintain a strong social support system
- Pay attention to how your child is sleeping, eating, feeling and doing in school. If you notice changes in any of these areas, have your child see the school counselor.2
- Teach your child to say "Stop!" Most bullies stop bullying within 10 seconds, when someone tells him or her to stop.5
Work With Your Child's School
- Contact your child's teacher or principal and provide specifics on how your child is being bullied. Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the help of adults.
- Request that the principal and classroom teacher tell other teachers, recess aides, hallway monitors and cafeteria staff, so everyone who comes in contact with your child will be on the lookout and poised to intervene.1
- The incorporation of all levels of school personnel in interventions is a necessary component of the reduction of student aggression and victimization incidents.
- Parents and teachers must ensure that children are receiving appropriate care from school-based health care personnel.
- School-wide interventions that target bullies and victims with a focus on the development of social and emotional skills are especially helpful.3
- Stop Bullying Now! U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied.
- Laurence Owens. Indirect Aggression Amongst Teenage Girls and How Parents Can Help
- Linda A. Cedeno, Maurice J. Elias. How Do You Know When Your Student Or Child Is Being Victimized and How Can You Help?
- Tanya Beran. Bullying: What are the Differences between Boys and Girls and How Can You Help?
- Wendy Ryan, Mary C. Cappadocia. Four Strategies for Teachers and Parents to Pass on to Kids who Witness Bullying.