Back to School and Bullying
Well, it’s that time of year again! Back to school!
Going back to school can be nerve racking for anyone but it can be especially bad for kids who are being bullied. Not only do they have to worry about whether they’ll like their teachers or whether the cafeteria will still have their favorite meal, but they also have to worry about someone hurting them, physically or emotionally.
As parents and advocates, what can we do to help those who are getting bullied?
What is bullying?
First, let’s define what bullying is. Because sometimes we downplay the seriousness of bullying. Sometimes we say that “kids will be kids” or it’s a “right of passage”. But unfortunately, that is not the case.
Bullying is described as “physical or verbal aggression that is repeated over a period of time and involves an imbalance of power.”
In other words, bullying isn’t not liking someone or getting your feelings hurt.
Others have described it as having to meet the following criteria:
- Aggression – it can be physical, verbal, or social
- Repetition – it has to happen more than once
- Power imbalance – there needs to be someone who has the upper hand
- Intent – they are purposefully trying to hurt the other person
Bullying, whether physical, verbal or cyber, is running rampant through our schools and through our communities. Nine out of ten elementary aged students have been bullied by their peers. Sixty percent of middle school aged students admit to being bullied. According to the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, it is one of the most concerning issues children are facing today!
And COVID has not helped this situation at all! Cyberbullying has increased exponentially during the pandemic. And now that schools are opening, children are going to have to face their bullies again.
So, as parents and advocates, what can we do to help our children? Let’s talk about a few of the things we can do.
What to do if you think your child is being bullied
Talk to them. As I said before, let them know that they are not alone! And if they tell you what’s going on, be sure to follow up. You shouldn’t go to the parents of the bully, but you should go to the school administrators. Let them do an investigation but don’t let it go. Keep advocating for your child. If administrators are not taking you seriously, or getting you the help you need to stop the bullying, I always advise people to “ask up.” Simply put, go one level up in authority to that person’s boss and ask them for help. Keep “asking up” until you get the assistance you need.
Most of all, make sure your child feels safe with you. Let them know that they can share with you the tough things. Especially about social media. And don’t feel shy about checking their social media accounts and DMs. We are our children’s advocates! And they need to know that especially when they are being bullied.
While we can’t guarantee that our child will not be bullied, we can act to help them know what bullying is and what to do about it. Bullying is a real problem in our children’s lives today but it is one that we can help them with if we know the signs to look for. They are not alone in this and neither are you!
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