Do you think your child is being bullied?

If you realize early on that your child is being victimized, intervention can be a life-saver. With recent news stories about students who have taken their lives over being bullied, it is imperative parents possess information that provides indications of what to look for and what to do to prevent further victimization.

A bully can use different types of bullying to intimidate another person. These include physical bullying, hazing, emotional bullying, verbal bullying, and cyber bullying.

There is a possibility your child may be bullied if he or she

  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
  • Experiences a loss of appetite.
  • Appears anxious or suffers from low self-esteem.
  • Appear sad, moody, or depressed at home.
  • Complains of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments.
  • Has lost interest in school or suddenly begins doing poorly in school.
  • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers.
  • Has unexplained cuts, scratches, or bruises.
  • Returns from school with torn or missing clothing, books, belongings.

What to do About School Bullying

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to bullies

  • Discuss ways to spot and deal with a school bully before your child becomes a bully’s target.
  • Help your child establish a core group of trusted friends to help deal with a school bully.
  • Boost your child’s self esteem and the ability to ignore or stand up to school bullies when excessively provoked. Be sure to warn him not to resort to tactics that will turn him into a bully, too.
  • Handle the situation privately with your child’s teacher, principal or guidance counselor to devise a way to deal with the school bully. Be sure to have specific information including the dates, witnesses and the nature of the bullying so they won’t be able to dismiss the bullying as an insignificant, one-time incident.
  • Work with the school’s PTA to develop an anti-bullying program to help everyone deal with a school bully.

Identify Cyber Bullying

  • Monitor your child’s online activities to see if they are being contacted by any bullies outside of school. Be especially cautious of popular social-networking sites where it is easy to make contact with others.
  • Monitor the cell phone activities of your child. Know who they are in contact with at all times. This includes text messages.
  • Ask the educators of your child if they have noticed any instances of bullying. Often cyber-bullying is a supplement used by bullies during the after-school hours when they are not near their targets.
  • Look for any change in behavior when it comes to using electronic communication devices. If your child frequently uses the computer and cell phone but suddenly stops, it may be worth looking into.

What to do About Cyber Bullying

  • Have your child keep their passwords private… even from friends.
  • Teach your child to never give out personal information (address, school name, schedule) online, as strangers can become cyber bullies as well.
  • Have your child show you threatening messages.
  • Parents need to monitor their child’s moods and behavior on and off the computer. This will give you a clue that someone is harassing them, allowing you to take proper steps.
  • Do not allow kids to communicate online with people they have never met. Anyone that your child chats with or emails should be someone they know from school, church or the neighborhood.
  • When cyber bullying occurs, report it to the school, Internet provider, cell phone companies and websites (all that apply). Cyber bullying often violates service terms of many websites and service providers, and so there should be a way to legally stop the harassment. You can also report online harassment to the police.

Other  Resources

A Guide to Preventing Bullying, Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Violence in RI Schools.

US Department of Health and Human Services: Stop Bullying

RI Department of Education: Thrive Website

Suicide Prevention Resources for Rhode Island Residents

Enter the name of your city or town for local resources.

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