Tackling Bullying At School and Online: Tips for Parents
We all know that bullying has become a huge issue over recent years, with many children falling victim to this type of behavior every year. This problem has been further exacerbated by the internet, with many children now being bullied online via social media sites and chat rooms. For parents, it can be extremely difficult to tackle this issue, particularly as children who are victims of bullying often tend to clam up.
In order to try and address bullying or even prevent it, it is important for parents to take steps sooner rather than later. Bullying, both online and offline, can quickly spiral out of control and we have all heard the many tragedies that have stemmed from this. Educating your kids, communicating, and monitoring are all key ways of helping your child to avoid falling victims to bullying or cyber-bullying.
However, it is not just the victims that have to be considered. The parents of the perpetrators also have to take steps to educate their kids and address any bullying issues before they get out of control. While there are teachers and other authority figures that can try to deal with both the victims and perpetrators of bullying, it is the parents that are likely to have the most impact.
Dealing with victims of online and offline bullying
As a parent, it is important to look out for the signs of a child who is being bullied. Of course, these signs are not the same for every child but there are some that tend to be common. Some of these include:
- Belongings that are broken or missing
- Marks and bruising
- Becomes quickly withdrawn
- Loss of appetite
- Poor sleep quality
- Reluctance to go to school
- Suffering from headaches and stomach pains
If you suspect your child is being bullied, the one thing you have to do is to sit and communicate with them. This doesn’t mean talk at them and demand that they tell you what is going on. No matter how angry you feel, this could simply make the child more withdrawn. Instead, take time to listen and gently coax information from your child.
Once you have established whether your child is the victim of bullying, you need to discuss it with the school. This goes for both online and offline bullying. Make sure you do everything by the book and schedule proper appointments to deal with the matter rather than just turning up. You should also keep a log of all incidents, both online and offline.
You should also speak to your child about how to handle bullies. On social media and online, the best course of action is to not react at all, as they will soon get bored. Bullying in person is slightly different in that your child needs to avoid giving the bullies what they want but also avoid getting aggressive or angry, as this is what bullies want. Your child needs to retain dignity while telling the bullies to stop what they are doing firmly and confidently.
What if your child is the bully?
The other end of the scale is where your child is not the victim but the bully. Many people don’t realize that it can be just as difficult for the parent of a bully, as this is a situation they can quickly lose control over. The best policy to reduce the risk of your child becoming a bully is to educate from an early age. Explain how bullying affects others and what it can do to them and their families. Also, explain how it can affect your child, his or her education, and have long-lasting repercussions.
The key to dealing with a child that is already bullying is to find out why. Screaming and shouting at your child will most likely prove ineffective. However, there are many reasons why children start bullying and this can range from personal emotional issues and insecurity through to peer pressure. If you can get to the root of the problem you have a far better chance of addressing it.
You should also work with the school in order to help tackle the issue, as you clearly cannot keep an eye on your child all day. Making sure that you acknowledge the behavior and ask for the help of the school will ensure that there are always adults around to keep an eye out. If your child is bullying someone online, restricting access to social media sites is advisable. This is something that can be done easily through the use of parental controls from your Internet Service Provider.
There is no doubt that bullying is becoming an increasing problem and the effects can be devastating. However, by learning how to better communicate with your children and educate them with regards to bullying, you stand a far better chance of helping both the victims and the perpetrators.