School Bullying! Don't Let Your Child Become Another Victim
Source: Open Talk Magazine 12/12/2010 20:35:00
Did you know that in America alone, 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally or physically? That one out of every ten student dropouts; does so because of continuous bullying and harassment? That on average, more than 150,000 students would rather miss school out of fear of getting bullied? These statistics reveal that bullying is becoming not just a nightmare for kids but also for their parents!
As a parent, it is important for you to stay tuned to your child’s life at school. Although it is tempting to pay more attention to a pile of unfinished office work every day; remember that your child needs your focused attention as well. Bullying incidents in schools have taken a turn for the worse and it’s important that you keep your eyes and ears open all the time so that you don’t miss the silent but ever present signs. “I’m sure my kid will tell me if there’s anything unpleasant happening at school”, is a popular statement many will argue. It’s great if you and your child have an open relationship where anything can be discussed, but in many families this may not be the case.
Children especially boys, may hesitate to tell their parents that they are being bullied at school because of a fear that their allegations may be dismissed as lies, they may not be taken seriously, that a bully can never be stopped or also that they may be laughed at. So, children prefer to suffer in silence, but as parents there’s plenty you can do to ensure your child doesn’t become another victim of bullying.
Read the Signs
Victims of bullying usually display a significant change in behavior and mood at home and in school. They may come home with ripped books, torn clothing or may have cuts and bruises on their body. They may be reluctant to go to school and often present a variety of excuses to miss classes. If your friendly child begins to get easily irritable, has severe mood swings, appears depressed, develops a short temper and has declining grades in school; it’s a good indication that your child may be a victim of bullying. Such children usually become isolated and prefer loneliness as opposed to an active social life.
Be a Concerned Parent
If you have noticed a number of sudden changes in your child’s behavior, the first persons to contact should be your child’s teachers. The teachers who interact with your child on a daily basis would be able to give you more information about your child at class. Simultaneously, encourage your child to open up and talk about what’s bothering him or her. A good way to set-up the ‘conversation stage’ is by creating an activity together such as putting together a jigsaw puzzle or even baking a cake.
Children are more likely to open up when they are occupied and are not made to feel like they are being interrogated. Let your child feel confident that you are there for him/her; as children need to be assured that they are doing the right thing by opening up about anything that has hurt them. If your child does so, make sure that you do not play a blame game or treat such an incident lightly.
Victims of bullying also tend to become shy and lose their self esteem gradually. They may feel that they do not measure up to other kids in the same class and that’s why they get picked on. As a parent, your child is like clay in your hands. If you sense that your bright outgoing child has changed, it’s crucial to rebuild his/her confidence. Encourage your child to make friends, to contact a teacher if any bullying incident takes place at school and get him/her involved in a sports program or hobby classes.
Get School Authorities Involved
You may be tempted to take matters into your own hands and confront a bully directly, but that is the wrong way to deal with the situation. Assuming that the bullying happens on the school premises, it is essential to inform the teachers and make them aware of any incident. It is in your best interest to have clear details of each incident such as when it occurred, date and details of incident, names and details of the bullies etc. That way you have enough material to show the principal if you feel that the teachers do not take the bullying seriously or are unable to control the situation. Ensure that your child knows who you are talking to and also that you view the bullying incidents with utmost seriousness. That alone will give your child’s confidence a much needed boost.
A parent should let the child know that bullying can be stopped. Placing your child in a martial arts or other self-defense course, can help in making your child mentally and physically strong as well as help him/her stay cool and confident at all times. Give your child emergency numbers to call if there are any more bullying incidents, to listen to instincts, and walk away if he/she senses trouble; more importantly, to never provoke a bully.