What Every Parent Needs to Know About Bullying

Mom Moment 37

school playgroundIt happens at every school: About a third of children are be bullied sometime during their school years. Whether they're the victim, the perpetrator, or a bystander, it's something almost all kids have to face. Do you and your child have a plan for how to deal with bullying?

It's been on my mind since reading The Great Brain with my son. In that story of three brothers growing up in rural Utah in the 1890s, you deal with bullies by learning to out-fight them. The end. That's not going to work here in the 21st century! Now we have to resolve those conflicts very differently. Find out what you need to know to protect your child and help create a safe school environment this year.

1. Get ahead of the game. Sometimes kids are reluctant to report bullying because they're embarrassed or confused or don't have the words to describe what's happening to them. Have a conversation with your child about what bullying is before the school year starts. Make sure they understand they will have your support if they feel threatened by another child at school -- and that this is not something they simply have to endure.

2. Find out your school's policy. What are your school's rules? Who do you report bullying behavior to? What is your school's history with dealing with bullies? Do they have an anti-bullying program?

3. Know your anti-bullying strategies. There are many ways to handle a bully. KidsHealth.com lists several: Build up your self esteem, stick with a buddy, ignore the bully wherever possible, use a loud, strong voice to tell the bully to stop, don't bully back, learn to control your emotions and not react, and tell an adult. (And if that adult doesn't do anything, find another, and another, until you find someone who will.) It helps if your child knows what to do BEFORE a bullying incident.

4. Introduce an anti-bullying program. If your school doesn't already have a program or even a plan for handling bullies suggest a few. Find other parents who feel it should be a priority to help you. Research shows that anti-bully programs can be effective, but some programs are better than others. Many are variations of the Olweus Program. Ask around through your own network of friends and family to see what programs and policies have worked well.

Many parents are watching the movie Bully and discussing it with their children. The website TheBullyProject.com has many resources for kids, parents, and schools.

5. Make sure your own kid doesn't bully. No parent wants to believe that their own child is capable of terrorizing another child. But kids have a way of surprising you -- sometimes in disappointing ways. When you talk about bullying with your child make sure they understand what actions are considered bullying, and that these actions are unacceptable, even if their friends are doing the same thing.

Have you talked with your children and school about bullying?


Image via wsilver/Flickr



bullies, books & media, back to school, elementary school, safety


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ceciliam ceciliam

We have had lots of talks about bullying and his school also makes it a focus. We have not had any issues.

kellynh kellynh

Yes... And teach them not to be bullies themselves!!!

Mary Cimino

I've already talked to my kid about bullying and she's starting Kindergarten. I told her to be nice and if you see someone else having a hard time making friends at least say Hi and play with them. They'll remember your kindness for the rest of their life.

I'm more worried about my husbands 14 year old cousin, to be honest he a wuss and wears track pants. If anyone has ever worn stretch pants in MIddle School you know what can happen.

Véronique Houde

Mary, I honestly think it's unfair of you to call a 14 year old a "wuss with track pants". I think it's actually called... wait, BULLYING! Perhaps not to his face, but you are talking behind his back and if you do it, then how can you accept it as unacceptable for others? It's not about what he wears, but how he reacts to the bullying. Can you, as a role model or adult that he looks up to, be there to help him figure out how to react to the bullying if ever it happens, or will you just tell him to stop wearing those pants? There's maybe a reason he wears those pants, you should find that out. Ultimately, IF he is being bullied, the best thing to do is to teach him what it means to not react emotionally (keep a neutral face when being bullied while looking in their eyes) and then walking away. Eventually, bullies will realize that bullying him is boring. 


Here is a very good website for kids who get bullied (and have other issues): www.kidshelpphone.ca . Check it out, it has great resources and advice!

PinkB... PinkButterfly66

My kid was bullied by a girl in 4th grade.  It took almost the complete 1st semester to get it stopped.  The guidance counsellor and teachers were useless they were convinced the bully was a "nice girl".  She was except behind their back she tormented my kid.  The principal finally stopped it.  But I agree, teachers and guidance counsellors should be bully awareness training.  The students should have assemblies on bully awareness that encourage bystanders to either defend the victim or report the bullying or both.  If the students refuse to be bystanders then bullies will not be able to victimize anyone.  

sukainah sukainah

These are great suggestions.  I need to talk to my son more about bullies and how to deal with them.

nonmember avatar kaerae

geez Mary Cimino, you sound like a hypocritical bully! Hope your daughter does as you say, not as you do....yeah, that'll happen...

Bob192 Bob192

I've talked with my daughter about it.  I hope we have a good enough relationship that she would tell me if someone is bothering her.

slw123 slw123

I have had to, each of them has already been bullied.  My daughter was picked on her very first day of kindergarten.   =(

Madel... Madelaine

Good suggestions.

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