When we were growing up, a school “bully” may have shoved you or took your lunch money. Nowadays parents are faced with shocking headlines about teen and tween suicides blamed on bullying. In fact, a Yale University study shows bully victims are up to nine times more likely to think about suicide than non-victims. Shrugging off or minimizing how your children feel isn’t going to work. As a parent, you need to teach your child to deal with bullying. Here are some simple steps to start the conversation.
Share your experience
Everyone has had an experience with a bully at school, an organization or team. Think back to how it made you feel. Tell your child they’re not alone and that you experienced it too. Share what you wish you had done differently to cope with a bully.
Create a circle of trust
Although we’d like our children to talk to us first, that won’t always happen. Parents should alert teachers, coaches, mentors and the rest of the family about what a child is experiencing. Encourage your child to talk to anyone in his or her circle of trust about bullying, depression or physical abuse.
Watch films and videos about bullying
The award-winning documentary “Bully” debuted in 2011 to rave reviews when it captured the physical and verbal abuse children face from their classmates. To let your children and their friends know they’re not alone, host a screening of the film at your school, church or synagogue, or community center.
Online Resources for Bullying
The Bullying Project website reports more than 13 million American children will be bullied this year. The site also has video clips and tool kits for parents and educators to help children cope with bullying.
The Trevor Lifeline is a 24/7 confidential hotline children can call at 1-866-488-7386. Put the number in your child’s mobile phone or leave it written near your home phone in case they’d like to call.
StopBullying.gov has a special resource page for cyber bullying. With social media and mobile phone children can also suffer bullying online. Visit the site for help establishing safe rules about using technology.
Comment below: Have your children started talking to you about bullies or being mistreated by their classmates at school? How do you keep the lines of communication open?