Bullying, whether it is verbal, physical, emotional or Internet-based (cyberbullying), can have devastating effects on a child’s self-esteem and can cause depression, anxiety, loneliness and even thoughts of suicide. Therefore, if you know that your child is being bullied, it is imperative to act quickly. Here are some tips on how to respond to the child and deal with the source of the problem:
• Never advise a child to ignore bullying behavior, and never blame the child by suggesting that he or she provoked it.
• Get your child to tell you precisely what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who was involved. Also, establish whether anyone witnessed the incident(s).
• Praise your child for telling you about the bullying, and let the child know that it is not his or her fault. Never suggest that your child handled the situation badly.
• Explain that you will think about how to deal with the situation and will let him or her know how you intend to handle it.
• Never encourage physical retaliation.
• Contact your child’s teacher or the principal and unemotionally explain the details of the incident(s). The school has an obligation to deal with the matter effectively, but explain that you want to work with them to put a stop to the bullying. Never contact the bully’s parents directly.
• Keep a record of any meetings that you have with the school, and if the situation continues, escalate the matter to the school superintendent or the school board.