Bullying is a pervasive problem throughout the United States. Nearly 1/3rd of all US students in grades 6-12 have been the victims of bullying, and with the rise of the constant interaction afforded by social media, cyberbullying has also become a major issue.
Far too many young students try to keep the bullying a secret, but when parents do find out they often do not handle the situation properly. Here’s what you should not do if you suspect or find out that your child is being bullied.
Do NOT tell them to ignore it
Your child may interpret you telling them to ignore it as you yourself are going to ignore it. Furthermore, ignoring the issue may make the bullying worse. Bullying requires action to rectify the situation, not standing by and hoping it goes away, and if your child could ignore the problem they probably would not have sought help.
Do NOT tell them to fight back
Everyone has a right to defend themselves, but telling your child to retaliate by hitting the bully back will likely only exacerbate the issue and could lead to suspension or expulsion for your child. It is better for your child to try to remove himself or herself from the situation and seek help than to engage in a fight.
Do NOT victim blame
Many parents will try to figure out what their own child did to “provoke” the bully in order to try to help them figure out how to make the problem stop. You need to empathize with your child, not shift the focus or blame for the situation on to them. Even if you believe your child did not handle the situation correctly, you should not criticize them.
Do NOT react emotionally
As a parent, it is easy to want to react extremely aggressively to our kids being bullied, but it is important you force yourself to react logically rather than emotionally. If you take confrontational action yourself, like accosting the bully or the bully’s parents, you could end up facing assault charges. A parent’s protective instincts are difficult to set aside, but you are setting an example for your child and you need to show them the proper way to handle their problems.
Do NOT expect it to go away without help
Parents are far too reluctant to reach out to school officials for help when their child is being bullied. You will likely need their help to ensure that the bullying stops, and you need to set an example for your child that it is okay to seek the help of other adults.
Remember, bullying is not confined only to school age children, and can happen to anyone at any time. If you or a loved one has been physically or psychologically injured by a bully, please reach out to Inkelaar Law and let us help.