Bullying at school can affect your child in a number of ways. Not only does it have a negative impact on the social environment, but it also creates an atmosphere of fear among students.
Bullying also impacts learning regardless of whether your child is a target of bullying or just a witness. So, the need to address bullying is significant. But schools cannot address the issue alone. Preventing bullying requires your involvement too. Here are the top 10 things parents can do to prevent bullying at school.
1. Begin at home.Talk with your child about what constitutes healthy friendships and what does not. Although research suggests that parents are often the last to know when their child is being bullied or has bullied someone else, you can break that trend by talking with your kids every day about their social lives. Ask open-ended questions about who they had lunch with, what they did at recess and what happened on the bus or on the walk home from school.
2. Learn the warning signs.Many children don't tell anyone when they have been bullied. As a result, you have to be able to recognize the possible signs that your child is being bullied. For instance, complaining about stomachaches, avoiding school activities and dropping grades are red flags that something is going on. Additionally, kids who are bullied may experience changes in mood, personality, eating habits and hygiene.
3. Instill healthy habits.It’s very important to instill an anti-bullying mindset. But this includes more than just teaching your child not to hit, shove or tease other kids. Kids should learn that being critical, judgmental, making hurtful jokes and spreading rumors are also unhealthy and constitute bullying. It's also never too early to teach your kids about responsible online behavior. Cyberbullying is a big issue among kids today.
4. Empower your kids.Give your kids tools for dealing with bullying like walking away, telling an adult or telling the bully in a firm voice to stop. You also should teach your kids how to report bullying when they witness it. Research shows that most kids feel powerless to help when they see another person being bullied. Equip them with ideas on how to handle these difficult situations.
5. Become familiar with your school's policies.It's important to have a firm grasp on how bullying is handled at your child's school. Not only will you know which person to call if something happens, but you also will have clear expectations of how the situation may be handled.
6. Report bullying incidents.Contact school personnel and ask to meet with them in person if your child is bullied. By holding a face-to-face meeting, you are demonstrating that you’re committed to seeing this issue resolved. You may also want to document all bullying incidents in case the situation escalates and law enforcement or other outside sources need to be contacted.
7. Be an advocate.While it's important to voice your support for bullying prevention, it's also important to offer your time. Volunteer to work with your child's teachers or your school's guidance counselor to develop an anti-bullying program. If your school already has a program in place, offer to help when events and fundraisers are held.
8. Recruit other parents.When a lot of parents are committed to bullying prevention, a school's program will be more successful. Form a group of motivated parents to help you tackle the issue. Meet regularly to brainstorm ideas. Then, share your ideas with the appropriate school officials and offer to help implement the ideas.
9. Spend time at school.Accept opportunities to volunteer at school functions and during the day if your schedule permits. With shrinking budgets, schools have been forced to downsize. As a result, your kids may be getting less supervision on the playgrounds and during lunch. Sometimes simply having an additional adult around is enough to deter bullying.
10. Ask the PTA/PTO to sponsor a bullying prevention program.If your school has limited funds for bullying programs, approach your school's PTA/PTO and ask for their assistance. Or, suggest a fundraiser to build awareness. Remember, bullying is not a normal part of childhood. Bullying affects everyone. But as a parent, you have the power to do something about it.
More Resources for Parents
Bullying Topic Writer