Strategies for Handling Bullying Behavior

Strategies for Parents—How can I help my child deal with bullying behavior?
  • Tell your child that you expect him or her to help a child who is being bullied or excluded.
  • Encourage your child to report to you as a parent and school personnel if he or she experiences bullying behavior.
  • Children need support from responsible adults to address bullying.
  • Establish clear expectations about respecting others and gaining respect.
  • Follow through with a consistent set of rules and consequences.
  • Spend time with your child in enjoyable activities.
  • Help find your child a friend if they seem to not have one.
  • Know your child’s friends.  Allow kids to gather at your home.
  • Teach kindness and model this behavior.
  • Always be available to listen and talk to your child about what is going on in their life.
  • Involve your child in activities outside of school so they are exposed to different groups of people.

 What can I do if my child is bullied?
  • Support your child.  Bullying is not the fault of the child being bullied in most cases.
  • Gather information about the incident.  Ask who, what, when, where, and how?
  • Praise your child for the attempts he or she has likely made to resolve the situation.
  • Talk with the school about consequences for the child being bullied and about increased support from other students and staff for your child.
  • Help your child understand that real friends are not mean to each other.
  • Be careful you don’t take over and try to “solve” the problem.
  • Be careful you don’t send a blaming message by asking, “What did you do wrong? What are you doing to cause this?” as this can add feelings of low self worth.
  • Be a good listener, without distraction of the computer, newspaper, phone etc.
  • Ask your child if they can think of something to say or do that would be helpful…Encourage assertiveness.
  • Encourage your child to keep a journal of what happens, who is involved and if any actions were taken.

 What if my child has bullying behavior?
  • Try to get full understanding of what happened.
  • Ask yourself whether there have been any recent changes or negative events in your child’s life.
  • Discuss consequences of bullying with the school principal or counselor regarding specific episodes and the response from the school.
  • Reinforce your rule that bullying must stop.
  • Help your child understand how bullying affects others.
  • Cooperate with the school to reinforce positive behaviors in your child.

 What if my child is a bystander?
  • Make up the majority of students.
  • They observe bullying behavior.
  • Be someone’s friend.
  • Report to an adult.
  • Stand up with the victim.
  • Walk away from the person with the bullying behavior.
  • Understand that there are more people making good decisions. Strength in numbers.
  • Don't let those making poor decisions win!

We need to work together!
It is important that the community be an active participant in this challenge to keep all our children safe, as this process can only be successful with assistance from both parents and community members.  Parents are asked to talk to their children on a consistent basis to gauge their emotional and physical well-being and possible response to bullying situations.

Also, please share with your child the importance of telling an adult if they are being bullied, either at school, or on the Internet on sites such as Facebook and MySpace.  Too often, schools learn about a bullying situation after it’s too late.  By letting us know early on, we can work together as partners and take appropriate measures to stop the bullying.  Also, please let your children know that you will not tolerate any bullying type behavior they may be a part of.

Social Networking

Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are quickly becoming tools for bullying and making threats.  Children need to be reminded that the words they write and the images they post have consequences offline.  OnGuardOnline.gov provides several tips for parents to use to help kids use social networking sites safely:

  • Help your kids understand what information should be private.
  • Explain that kids should post only information that you, and they, are comfortable with others seeing.
  • Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child’s website.
  • Remind your kids that once they post information online, they can’t take it back.
  • Talk to your kids about avoiding suggestive talk online.
Tells your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions.  If they ever feel uncomfortable or threatened by anything online, encourage them to tell you.