Help put the brakes on bullying – part 3

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Help put the brakes on bullying - part 3In Part 1 of this series we spoke about the phenomenon that is bullying, and in Part 2 we offered ways to uncover when bullying is happening.  In this final instalment we will look at ways to help stop the bullying – whether your child is the victim or the instigator.

What should you do if you know your child is the victim of bullying?

  1. Stay calm. One of the worst ways to respond is to let your anger bubble over. Do your part to end the cycle of aggression by being calm and reasonable.
  2.  Don’t brush off the claim. Assure your child that you’re relieved that he or she told you. Be understanding and explain that you’ll work with their teacher and/or the parents of the bully to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
  3.  Investigate. Gather as much detail as you can about the incident from your child before jumping to any conclusions.
  4.  Make contact. Get in touch with your child’s teacher, principal or guidance counsellor and alert them to the situation.
  5.  Establish an agreement with your child’s principal about the steps that will be taken to address the bullying.  This includes the actions they will take and feedback they will provide to you following their contact with the bully’s parents.
  6.  Ensure that your child is well supervised. Accompany your child to and from school or assign the task to a relative or older child that you trust. If the bullying is taking place in the schoolyard, encourage the principal and teachers to increase monitoring at recess and lunchtime.
  7.  Foster self-confidence. Encourage participation in activities that your child enjoys or excels at, especially outside of school (if that’s where the bullying is occurring). Consider enrolling him or her in a self-defence course; it can help build self-esteem and discipline.
  8.  Role-play or discuss potential bullying situations and useful responses with your child such as ignoring the bully or directly questioning the aggressor which may facilitate retreat.
  9.  If there should be contact between yourself and the bully’s parents, whether at a school event or in public, remain polite and non-threatening.   Civility modeled is the best approach.
  10.  If the bullying does not cease and actions taken by the school are not satisfactory, contact your local police to engage the police liaison office designated to your school.

The Last Word on the Best Defense

The best defense is to speak openly with your child about bullying and to remain informed.  Even if your child is not subject to being bullied, he or she may be witness to it.  The “Bystander Effect” is a social phenomenon and a problem in itself that perpetuates bullying and violence.  When witnesses or bystanders to the bullying do not take action to help the victim, they enable the violence as well.   It is important to emphasize to your child that it is just as critical to inform an adult when they witness bullying as it is if they are victim to it themselves.   It is a known fact that situations of violence or bullying end more quickly where a bystander/witness seeks help or assistance.

In addition to reaching out to your EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) for support or directly to a professional counsellor, key resources for information on bullying and strategies for prevention or supporting your children are:

http://www.kidshelphone.ca/  /  1-800-668-6868

http://www.bullystoppers.com/

http://en.teljeunes.com/home

http://www.redcross.ca (Anti-bullying/anti-cyberbullying tips for parents, children/teens. Scroll to “How We Help – Violence Prevention Programs:  10 Tips to Keep Young People Safe”)

Visit us as well on workhealthlife.com for more resources on parenting children and bullying.

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