Bullies used to be big kids, with big mouths, that had a loud bark, but no bite. Unfortunately, bullies aren’t just barking they are biting. Violence between children is alarming and dangerous. Bullying has become more than name calling and a push against the lockers, some bullies use physical violence, weapons, verbal abuse, and even sexual abuse to intimidate others. The repercussions children suffer from bullying can be severe and long lasting. With the new school year looming parents should take the time to discuss with their children what to do if they encounter a bully. As parents we also need to take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue before it escalates.
Before school begins I suggest having a family meeting for an overall discussion of the rules for the new school year. Discussions on expectations, homework, bedtime, etc. will get everyone on the same page. During the discussion bring up the subject of bullying. Many children are reluctant to bring up issues that they may find embarrassing. Ask them if they have had any problems during the past year or over the summer with any other children. Stress the seriousness of any type of violence or harassment and let them know that they can come to you. If they are in school and feel threatened tell them to go directly to a school authority
Your children still may not admit they are being bullied. Kids have their pride and they may feel that they can handle the situation. As parents it is up to us to be aware and proactive.
Ways to try to stop bullies in their tracks
1. Observe Your Children – Usually if a child is being threatened or if they are the victim of violence it is going to take an emotional and physical toll on them. Observe their behavior. Are they easily agitated? Do they seem sad, scared, or angry? Are they crying or withdrawn? Use your mother’s intuition, if something seems wrong there probably is. If there is a change in their attitude, if their grades dropped, or they don’t want to go to school, the problem may lie at the school. Be aware of any bruises, or if they are losing weight or gaining a lot of weight, all of these may be signs. Don’t turn a blind eye.
2. Talk Openly with Your Kids – If you want an answer from your children ask them. Find a place where they feel safe and comfortable and ask if they are having problems with anyone at school. It is important that you convey to them that they can trust you and you will do your best to resolve the issue.
3. Talk to Other Parents – One of the best resources we have as parents are each other. If your child is having a problem with a classmate most likely other kids are having the same issue. I am not saying to phone every single parent in the neighborhood, but make an effort to get to know other parents and keep an open dialogue with them, become one another’s eyes. Parents are wonderful sources of support to one another. If other children are having the same problem on school grounds with a bully it puts more pressure on the school to resolve the issue when parents band together.
4. Hold the School Accountable – We send our children to school to receive an education. We assume that they are in a safe place and while they are there it is the school’s responsibility to protect them. If you discover your child is being bullied, run don’t walk to the principal’s office. Discuss the issue, and do not leave until you know that a corrective action is going to take place. You may even want to request a meeting with the parent’s of the other child. They may not even be aware of their child’s behavior. Let the school and parents know that you take the matter seriously and will go through the proper channels to protect your child.
5. Pray with Your Kids – We try to keep our kids safe, but we can’t be around them twenty-four hours a day. Only God can protect them every minute of every day. Starting at a young age, make it a habit to pray with your child before the school day. Ask God to guide and protect them. Teach your children to have faith in the Lord and to pray about all things. Lastly, pray for the child who is misbehaving, you never know what is at the root of behavioral issues. Ask God to guide them through whatever it is that is making them become abusive toward others. Talk to your child about forgiving the bully so that they are not harboring feelings of anger and resentment
Kids will be kids and childhood arguments and teasing will inevitably occur. However, when bullies cross the line, send a message that it will not be tolerated. By taking a stand for your child, you may be saving many others from the damaging aftermath of a school bully. When your kids see you immediately taking action, they will realize that violence is never acceptable and should never be taken lightly. Help your child’s school year s be a pleasurable and safe experience by taking precautions, talking openly with your kids, being a proactive parent, and of course always praying.
Copyright © Chere Williams, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved