8 Ways Parents Can Handle Bullying
Past generations ask why is there so much fuss about bullying today? They tend to say: “In my time there was no talking about “bullying”; If someone bothered you, you either would fix it directly with the culprit, telling him to stop bothering you or else you would fight. And the promises were fulfilled … The parents did not intervene, on the contrary, parents said to the boys in particular: “do not let anyone bother you and, if someone hits you, you hit back …”
But obviously, things have changed… evolved, maybe? And, the term “bullying” has been established.
In which ways have things changed related to this problem?
I have identified at least three of them:
1) Nowadays, information, in general, is more accessible to everyone. This information covers statistics and research about the psychological and sociological consequences of bullying, the incidence in schools, the relationship it has with depression, anxiety, and suicide in children and teenagers, the relationship between school shooters and their past of being bullied, etc. In other words, people are better informed.
2) Due to the globalization of communication, parents are more alert and aware of their children’s emotional changes in relation to their social exchanges and give these changes more importance.
3) Parenting has changed. It has become more conversational, flexible and with less strict rules of behavior. Parents do not advise fighting back. They prefer talking with the teachers, and/or with the parents of the child who may be bullying their kid, psychological help, etc.
What is “Bullying”?
But, the truth is that “bullying” exists, it is increasing (online and off-line) and can be disastrous for the psycho-emotional development of children and adolescents.
It is considered “bullying” if:
1.- The behavior involves aggressiveness (verbal, social or physical)
2.- The harassment is repeated
3.- There is an imbalance of power between the attacked person and the person who harasses him or her such as physical force, access to embarrassing information, popularity, etc.
If you suspect that your child is suffering from bullying and your answers to the above 3 questions are “yes”, then it can be considered a case of bullying.
Handling Bullying with your Child
What to do in this case?
With your son or daughter:
1 .- Although you can feel angry, frustrated or even guilty, try not to lose control if your child tells you that another child bothers him or, you find out by other means.
2.- Give your child peace of mind by telling him or her that anyone can be bothered by other people. There is no specific type of person that is bullied. The important thing is how it is handled.
3.- Remove the power of the bully in front of your son or daughter by telling them that bullies are people who have many emotional problems and that they are basically seeking attention in the worst way. They are generally unloved and unattended children in their homes.
4.- Tell him or her that between the two of you, will get an effective and fast solution. Mention that bullying is already a crime and that whoever commits it goes to jail, regardless of age.
5.- Reinforce all the positive things and talents your child has. Make him or her to do a list and read it over and over with him or her. Self-confidence is the best antidote to counteract bullying.
6.- Tell him or her that for now, before a solution is achieved, try to be away from the bully and always be in a group.
Handling Bullying in a Social Setting
In the school or place where bullying is occurring:
1.- Ask to speak with the teacher, coach or adult closest to the child. Do not make accusations until you hear the version of these people. There may be other aspects of the situation that your child is omitting. Many times it happens.
2.- Tell this person the version that your child gave you and, if there is one, present any concrete evidence that you might have, such as blows or bruises that your child presents, broken belongings, embarrassing or threatening texts or emails, etc.
3.- Ask about the institution’s conduct policies and, specifically, anti-bullying rules.
4.- Depending on the seriousness that you notice with which this person is taking your case, you will decide if it will give them an opportunity to solve this problem, or you will take it to the next level of authority.
5.- Give it a week to see if the situation improves.
6.- Many times, when the bullying situation is exposed to light in its initial stage, it can be resolved without major consequences.
7.- If any other incident occurs, ask for a meeting with the highest level of authority of the institution (supervisor or director) and ask them to meet with the parents or legal representatives of the “bully”.
8.- If after this, the problem has not been stopped, alert the authorities.
Another important facet of bullying today is cyberbullying. This is wreaking havoc in the adolescent and is contributing greatly to the rise in depression and suicide statistics among this population. Remember that unfortunately for many boys and girls of these new generations, being “liked” or “followed” in the social media platforms is essential for their wellbeing and self-esteem. Being rejected or their reputation broken publicly in social media is devastating.
Since it is such an important and vast topic, it requires a separate article. So, this will be the subject of my next article: How Parents Can Handle Cyberbullying.