Your Child Is a Victim of Bullying: What Now?
One of your worst fears has been realized, you’ve learned that your child is a victim of physical, emotional, or cyber bullying. What do you do next?
Take it seriously and never blame the victim. Bullying has become a national epidemic that must be stopped. Thirty percent of middle and high-school aged children are victims of bullying, but less than 20 percent of incidents are reported. The long-term negative effects are too serious to ignore. As parents, we must act.
Now that you’re aware of the situation, take charge, listen to your child without judgment, and gather all the necessary facts needed to file an incident report. Start by teaching your child how to report a bully effectively. Write down all pertinent information – who, what, when, where, why, how, recurring incidents. Keep a detailed log and add any follow-up actions to it after reporting an incident.
Remember to stick to the facts. It’s easy to become overly emotional when your child is hurting, but schools and authorities will be more receptive to your needs and more cooperative if you have a calm head on your shoulders.
CONFRONTING THE BULLY AND THEIR PARENTS
Your first instinct is likely to confront the aggressor’s parents. Don’t. This can not only lead to uncomfortable situations but has the potential to cause additional incidents or for your child to lose trust for fear of retaliation.
Unless the bully is a family member or the child of a family friend, with whom you could confidently work together to resolve the issue in a cooperative way, let your child’s school or local authorities handle the situation.
If you must contact the bully’s parents, be non-confrontational. Your end goal is to resolve the issue together.
REPORTING THE INCIDENT TO A TEACHER, PRINCIPAL, OR SCHOOL BOARD
Do you know your school’s policy on bullying and harassment?
If not, obtain a copy of their anti-bullying policies and best practices to determine whether the incident violated school policy before filing a formal complaint.
Schedule a face-to-face meeting with the principal if the incident took place on school property. If you’re unable to meet in person, write a letter or email instead.
When meeting the principal face-to-face, bring your detailed log, stay calm and state the facts. It’s important to work with the school to implement an agreed-upon plan for solving the problem. Take notes or bring a recording device with you for peace of mind. Record everything, so that you can hold them accountable if they don’t take action.
You should expect the school to do the following:
- Take the incident seriously
- Investigate all incidents in question
- Enforce their anti-bullying policies
- Provide you with their next steps
- Confront the bully’s parents or guardians
- Enforce punishment
Be persistent in your follow up until the issue is resolved.
Ask your child’s teacher for help. They may not have witnessed bullying but should notice changes in your child’s emotional or behavioral state that can help determine if the bullying is still ongoing. Remember, it’s the teacher’s job to ensure that their students feel safe and happy in an educational environment.
If you’ve taken the steps above, but haven’t come to a resolution, do not hesitate to contact the Minnesota or US Department of Education for further investigation.
WHEN TO FILE A POLICE REPORT
If you’ve filed an incident report with the school, but the bullying does not stop, file charges with local law enforcement. Make the school aware of the situation, and keep track of the charges. Don’t be afraid to consult with an attorney. Most children don’t consider the consequences of bullying, but filing charges can follow them into more serious offenses down the line.
Any incident of bullying that occurs outside of school grounds, should be reported to the police. This includes all instances of cyberbullying. Double check state legislation to see if cyberbullying is covered. Cyberbullying can also be reported to your ISP provider and any social media platforms.
ACTIONS TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD
After taking action to the school or local law enforcement, follow up with your child. Listen and remain positively engaged. Know if the bullying is continuing and what actions the school has taken to stop it from recurring.
Here are some tips to help move forward:
- Never blame the victim
- Show continued unconditional love and support; remind your child of their talents and positive attributes
- Identify a safe space to find sanctuary from bullies; a corner store of their walk home, a friend’s house nearby
- Encourage the buddy system; identify someone they trust at school who they can go to for help
- Seek mental health counseling if your child needs it
- Never encourage violence or revenge
- Follow up with your kids when they’re calm or decompressed after a long day
- Help them make a friend; friendship cuts the effects of long-term bullying by 50%
- Practice a script; help your child find the words to stand up for themselves
- Encourage eye contact; focusing on the color of a bully’s eyes will make them appear more confident
- Teach your child to walk away
- Stay informed
Minnesota Anti-Bullying Laws and Policies: https://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/minnesota.html
Resources from the Minnesota Department of Education: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/safe/bprev/
Bullying Prevention Youth Leaders’ Toolkit: https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources-files/youth-leader-toolkit.pdf
Letter Template to Report Bullying to Your Child’s School: http://loveourchildrenusa.org/bullying_rights.php
This concludes our #BullyingIsNotOK Series! We hope that we provided some helpful tips to combat this issue of Bullying!
Our Empowerment Series doesn’t stop here “We Want to Hear From You” visit us on Monday to learn more!
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