What to do if my child is being bullied

You’re probably reading this because you already expect or know there is a problem. The most important thing is to do whatever is necessary to make sure your child trusts you and knows that you will work through their problem, together. There is always a solution. Sometimes it’s just a matter of communication and adults exercising their responsibility to resolve a situation. Some situations may require a more intensive response. Talk! Find out everything you can from your child.

Find out from your child who he or she believes is doing the bullying. Victims can experience bullying behavior from adults or students. If the bullying is from an adult; a teacher or staff member, make sure you have specific information. Were there witnesses? Where did the behavior occur? Has it happened before?

Then, make sure you know what is and is not bullying. There are many popular definitions of bullying. Some are based on descriptions of personal experience. Others are used in local or state laws or regulations. More useful than a technical definition may be a description of what can be considered bullying behaviors. The description of bullying behaviors below will be helpful as you pursue the matter with your child.

Next, take all of your information to the school counselor as soon as possible. There are caring professionals trained to deal with these matters at your child’s school. Make sure they are aware of all the facts that you know. Find out if there are other circumstances involved and follow through to resolve the bullying activities with your school. Involve your child in the discussions at the direction of the counselor.

WHAT IS BULLYING? Characteristics of bullying will include any aggressive behavior intended to cause physical or psychological harm to another individual or group. It is not an isolated act but is carried out repeatedly over time. It occurs when a person or group perceives it has an imbalance of power over the person or group that is the object of the behaviors.

 Bullying behavior is –

 Intentional

 Repeated

 Exhibits an imbalance of power

WHAT BULLYING IS NOT - Bullying is not a single episode of meanness, aggression or intimidation. That is not to say that single, random acts of aggression should not be immediately addressed by persons in authority. But random acts should be dealt with for what they are. Some random acts may even fall into the realm of assault, but they are not necessarily representative of bullying.

Bullying is not an argument or conflict where both parties are trying to reach a resolution. However, unresolved conflict can lead to bulling behavior if not addressed and one party tries to amass some type of power over the other. This can look like one party recruiting others to join “their side” in an ongoing conflict. Or, one party can attempt some type of retaliation toward another.

Neither is bullying simply social rejection, unless it is repeated, deliberate and is intended to cause distress or dislike by others.

WHAT TO DO - Whether bullying or random acts of aggression, students need to feel they have permission to report these behaviors and that responsible adults will act to relieve their distress. Every situation needs to reach a level of resolution that creates a safe environments in schools for every student.

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