Bullying has reached epidemic proportions. About 90% or more of kids have experienced a bullying incident by the age of 17. This is too many. Community and parent organizations have become more proactive in their approach, which has resulted in an increase in awareness of the problem. But how do kids handle that one bully bothering him or her today in the school setting, or other settings?
Here are some tips for parents and ways they can help their child avoid or stop bullying in its tracks:
1) Teach Kids to Report any Bullying Incident Immediately. Bullies count on not being reported to continue their actions. As a matter of fact, they often will test out a potential victim by trying out someone to see if they tell before proceeding with further attempts. If potential victims report each incident immediately after it occurs, it will be far less likely to continue.
2) Teach your Kids the Definition of Bullying. There is some confusion on what constitutes bullying. It is anything that intimidates, coerces, ridicules, or otherwise discriminates against someone due to any factor, including but not limited to: race, religion, gender, social preferences, or other. This does not mean that bullying and discrimination are the same thing-they are NOT. Discrimination is a legal term meaning that you have excluded someone from something or denied them some privilege due to some factor that is unfair. Bullying does not always discriminate in that way, but it differentiates, making the person feel different or bad.
3) Make Sure Kids Know Who to Turn to for Help. Counselors and principals are the primary sources of help kids can go to when they are bullied. But they can also tell their homeroom teacher, any other teacher available, or a police officer, if the bullying is severe.
4) Know when Bullying Becomes a Criminal Act. There is sometimes a fine line between bullying and criminal mischief and even more serious infractions. Sometimes the only thing that distinguishes between the two is the location in which the event occurs. For example, if someone bothers another student on campus, it may be labeled as “bothering” or maybe “bullying.” But when it occurs off-campus, it becomes a stalking or harassment charge. There are many legal terms attached to particular acts of bullying that kids should be aware of, whether they are the bullier or the person being bullied. None of these actions should ever be tolerated.
5) Talk to a Counselor. If bullying has caused your child to feel scared or psychologically insecure, teach them to seek help from a counselor when needed. Don’t let a situation get out of control.
Using these basic techniques on how to seek help in bullying situations, a lot of more serious problems can be avoided. Simply reporting incidents as they occur, and not allowing them to go unreported, knowing what bullying is, and what it is NOT, teaching kids who their resources are, and more are ways you, as a parent, can protect your child from being a bullying victim. For more information on how you can help thwart the bullying problem, contact your local school district or civic organizations.