In many cases, families don’t know what to do about bullying. Parents can also have a hard time stopping bullying because:
- Children who are bullied may be too embarrassed to come forward or may try to hide evidence of bullying
- Bullies may deny their actions
- Bullying may happen online, where it leaves few clues
- Schools and school boards may do little to stop a bully once the bullying is revealed
- The bullying may happen in situations or areas where there is little adult monitoring, making it harder to stop
According to the Florida Department of Education and other anti-bullying groups, there are several things that parents and families can do to address bullying:
1) Learn more about bullying.
This problem affects children more than parents realize. In fact, polls have shown that one in five children and teens report being bullied in the past year. To learn more about bullying review some online resources. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website is one place to start.
2) Look for signs of bullying.
Children may not come forward if they are being bullied. They may feel embarrassed, be afraid of their tormentors, or may not even be admitting to themselves that there is a problem. Parents may want to look for changes in behavior. Changes may include:
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Reluctance to go to school or take part in other activities
- Lack of friends
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
- Weight loss
- Unexplained property damage or losses (loss of lunch money, for example, or broken cell phones or computers)
- Mood swings
- Withdrawn behavior
If a parent suspects that their child is being affected by bullying, experts recommend starting a conversation. If a child denies that they are a target, it can be helpful to watch a film, video, or show about bullying and start a conversation about the subject then. A child may have an easier time identifying with a character and be able to discuss bullying in that context. It can also be helpful to have the child or teen talk to someone else who has survived bullying.
3) Start conversations about the topic.
Whether you suspect bullying or not, it is useful to visit anti-bullying sites online and to talk to your children about the topic. If they ever are targeted, they will know what to do. If your child does come forward about instances of bullying, listen and praise them for their bravery. Then, talk about what they can do to address the issue.
4) Teach a child anti-bullying strategies.
Teach your child how not to get ruffled when a bully approaches them. Review how to use the buddy system in between classes, and discuss how to report bullying at your child’s school.
5) Visit the school.
You will want to report bullying to your child’s school, especially if your child has sustained fractures, bruises, or any physical injury. The school has an obligation to keep all children safe, so follow up until the school and school board take action. Keep lines of communication open with the school to ensure that steps are being taken to stop the bullies.
If you feel that the education board is negligent in dealing with your complaint, you may wish to also speak to a personal injury attorney in Homestead or your community to review your legal options. You can always contact Flaxman Law Group in this situation for a free consultation.