Bullying and Your Child

If you’re a frequent surfer on the Internet, you’ve probably heard the story or have actually seen the video clip of Casey Heynes. Well, for those of you who have not yet seen or heard about it yet, Casey, a 12-year old boy in Australia, is being bullied by a couple of classmates in the school yard. The alleged accomplice to the bully seen on the video clip records as Casey is punched repeatedly in the face and body. After a couple rounds of punches, Casey decides he’s not going to take it anymore and picks up the bully, who coincidentally happens to be smaller physically than him, and body slams him on the concrete. For additional video commentary story, play the embedded video above.

Bullying is a form of abuse that involves act of continually physically and/or mentally abusing another person over a long period of time in order to assert power over a certain individual or groups. Everyone has probably had their fair share of bullies in their youth, and some may even have acted as bullies in their youth. As a parent, you might be quick to conclude that it is harmless, but recent studies indicate that bullying is not to be treated lightly. Research suggests that this type of prolonged abuse can lead to severe psychological trauma in children.

First, how can you tell if your child is being bullied?

Be on the lookout for these warning signs:

  • Damaged or missing clothing or other personal belongings
  • Unexplained bruises or other injuries
  • Few friends or close contacts
  • Reluctance to go to school or ride the school bus
  • Poor school performance
  • Headaches, stomachaches or other physical complaints
  • Trouble sleeping or eating

What can you do to stop the bullying?

  • Encourage your child to share his or her concerns. Remain calm, listen in a loving manner and support your child’s feelings. Express understanding and concern. You might say, “I understand you’re having a rough time. Let’s work together to deal with this.” Remind your child that he or she isn’t to blame for being bullied.
  • Learn as much as you can about the situation. Ask your child to describe how and when the bullying occurs and who is involved. Ask if other children or adults have witnessed any bullying incidents. Find out what your child may have done to try to stop the bullying.
  • Teach your child how to respond to the bullying. Don’t promote retaliation or fighting back against a bully. Instead, encourage your child to maintain his or her composure. He or she might say, “I want you to stop now,” and then simply walk away. Suggest sticking with a friend or group of friends while on the bus, in the cafeteria or wherever the bullying seems to happen. Remind your child that he or she can ask teachers or other school officials for help.
  • Contact school officials. Talk to your child’s teacher, the school counselor and the school principal. If your child has been physically attacked or otherwise threatened with harm, talk to school officials immediately to determine if the police should be involved. Don’t contact the bully’s parents yourself. You might also want to encourage school officials to address bullying — including cyberbullying — as part of the curriculum.
  • Follow up. Keep in contact with school officials. If the bullying seems to continue, be persistent.
  • Boost your child’s self-confidence. Help your child get involved in activities that can raise self-esteem, such as sports, music or art. Encourage your child to build friendships and develop his or her social skills.
  • Know when to seek professional help. Consider professional or school counseling for your child if his or her fear or anxiety becomes overwhelming.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Address the bullying issue head on with your child and listen to his/her concerns.  Next try to contact your child’s teacher and/or principal to discuss the issue, and if all else fails, seek professional help.

References: MayoClinic.com

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