• What if my Child is being Bullied?

    • Yourgut instinct is right; bullying must be taken seriously. There can beserious consequences for everyone involved, the bully, the bullied, andthe bystander. Committee for Children reports that:

    • Children who are bullied are more likely to develop future academic problems and psychological difficulties; and

    • Childrenwho are bullied are more likely to experience low self-esteem anddepression, anxiety, and insecurity that may continue into adulthood.
    Signs that Your Child Is Being Bullied

    Youmight assume that your child would tell you if she were being bullied;however, your child may be afraid to tell you for fear that it willonly make it worse, she may believe you will not be able to help stopthe bullying, or she may not even recognize that she is being bullied.Signs of physical bullying such as bruises or cuts may be more obvious;however, there are other signs that KidsHealth and the Committee forChildren report you can watch for that may indicate your child is beingbullied such as:
    • Asking often to stay home from school (frequent unexplained minor illnesses such as headaches, stomachaches, etc.);
    • Damaged/missing clothes or belongings;
    • Frequently �lost� lunch or lunch money;
    • Sleeping problems;
    • Bedwetting;
    • Problems in school such as declining school performance;
    • Depression, lack of enthusiasm for friends or activities; and
    • Unexpected changes in routine.
    Ifyour child is a victim of bullying, getting him to talk about it can bedifficult. The child may be afraid that if they tell you the bullyingwill get worse, or they may feel ashamed that this has happened tothem. KidsHealth suggests that drawings or puppets might help youngerchildren talk about bullies; however, it might be more effective to askolder children direct questions such as:
    • What�s it like walk to the bus stop or home from school?
    • What�s it like on the bus ride to and from school?
    • What happens on the playground during recess or before or after school?
    • What happens in hallways at school or during lunchtime?
    • Have any kids in the neighborhood or at school threatened anyone you know?
    • Do some kids you know get emails, instant messages, or test messages that are upsetting, threatening or insulting?
    Committee for Children has the following tips to help you to address the bullying situation:
    • Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to you.
    • Validate your child's feelings by letting her know that it is normal to feel hurt, sad, scared, angry, etc.
    • Letyour child know that he has made the right choice by reporting theincident(s) to you and assure your child that he is not to blame.
    • Helpyour child be specific in describing bullying incidents: who, what,where, when. (Look for patterns or evidence of repeated bullyingbehaviors.)
    • Ask your child how he or she has tried to stopthe bullying. Coach your child in possible alternatives. Avoidance isoften the best strategy. Play in a different place, play a differentgame, or stay near a supervising adult when bullying is likely tooccur.
    • Look for ways to find new friends. Support your childby encouraging her to extend invitations for friends to play at yourhome or to attend activities. Involve your child in social activitiesoutside of school.
    • Treat the school as your ally. Share yourchild's concerns and specific information about bullying incidents withschool personnel, such as your child�s teacher or the principal. Workwith school staff to protect your child from possible retaliation.Establish a plan with the school and your child for dealing with futurebullying incidents. If you feel the teacher has not heard your concernsyou should speak with the principal, if you feel the principal has notheard your concerns you should speak with the superintendent and so onuntil you feel you have been heard and you have seen the results youare looking for. Work with your child�s school to identify someone hecan feel safe reporting bullying incidents to such as the adult incharge of a specific activity or area (such as the playground,lunchroom, field trips, bus lines, gym, classroom)
    • Use school personnel and other parents as resources in finding positive ways to encourage respectful behaviors at school.
    • Volunteer time to help supervise on field trips, on the playground, or in the lunchroom.
    • Become an advocate for school wide bullying prevention programs and policies.
    What you as a parent should do
    • Encourage your child to continue to talk with you about all bullying incidents.
    • Do not ignore your child's report;
    • Donot advise your child to physically fight back. (Bullying lasts longerand becomes more severe when children fight back. Physical injuriesoften result.);
    • Do not confront the child who bullies; and
    • Do not confront the family of the child who bullies.
    Thisinformation was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, One Tough Job Manager, andreviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children�s TrustFund.