Bullying is harsh reality of high school. It’s hard to be a parent and watch as other kids bully your child. You may feel helpless and unsure what to do. However, there are steps you can take to be a proactive parent against teen bullying.
1. Make your teen aware that they can always talk to you about any situation. Blogger Dan Pearce suggests having an open door policy. Doing so means they’re more likely to come to you with problems. If they have your support, they’ll have the courage not to be a victim. Talking about events in the media and how you might handle a similar situation can also help.
2. Teach them not to provoke the bully. Psychologist Dr. Liz Laugeson encourages bullied child to avoid the bully by staying away from areas he or she frequents. Verbal attacks can also be shut down by having the bullied child act as if the words didn’t affect him, and retorting with a comment like “Is that supposed to be funny?” This defeats the bully’s purpose and dispels the thrill. Dr. Laugeson also warns that children being bullied shouldn’t attempt to make friends with their bully.
3. For chronic bullying, teach your child to find help. Encourage them to go to the teacher first, then to the principal. If your teen doesn’t think they can go to that specific teacher, have them report the offense to another teacher, school official, or coach they trust. The school guidance counselor is also a viable option if they want to talk about what’s happening. Guidance counselors are trained to not only give insight into emotional issues, but also those of society especially in the high school setting. Your teen should be taught not to tolerate bullying. It’s a form of abuse and can cause physical as well as emotional harm. In fact there are five types of bullying–relational, social, physical, verbal, and cyber bullying.
4. Check the school policy against bullying. Child psychologist Dr. Stephanie Mihalas tells parents to check to make sure your child’s school has measures in place to prevent bullying and an outlined way to correct bullying. If you want to be proactive, take part in the teacher-parent organizations and help start a club to motivate high school students to say “no” to bullying.
5. Monitor your child’s social media activity. This doesn’t mean that you’ll read every post. But be prepared to occasionally check to see what they’re posting and what others are commenting. Also, make sure to let them know you’re doing this. If you do so without their knowledge, they’ll consider it spying. Also don’t hide your identity by creating a fake profile. Let them know that you’re only trying to help and just want to keep them safe.
6. Help your teen be social. Friends can be a saving grace in a tense situation. Having a variety of relationships will help your teen know how to identify with a wider variety of people. Support their efforts to join extracurricular activities like clubs or sports teams. Be a go-to place for your children to hang out with their friends. Seeing their interactions, and being privy to what they have going on can help you gauge their social situation.
7. Know your child and assess their needs. Pay attention to how they talk and act, as well as their habits. Youthologist Vanessa Van Petten says parents should be able to tell if something has offset their child’s usual demeanor. If you’re in doubt, ask! If they’re afraid, or aren’t sure how to put things into context, they may secretly want someone to help.