As children get ready to go back to school, this is a great time to year to review anti-bullying strategies and safety tips with your kids. As children start thinking about the new school year, those who have been victims of bullies may be feeling dread and fear. In addition, statistically, many children will be bullied. Even if a child has not encountered hurtful words or actions before, they may encounter them this year. Arming them with the resources they need to prevent or cope with these situations can be a big help.
As a parent, there are several things you can do:
- Stay alert to your child’s social media use. The online environment offers anonymity and allows kids to make unkind comments and sometimes spread vicious rumors without having to face their targets directly. In addition, bullies can extend their reach, cyberbullying children from around the country or around the world. Children often use multiple social media accounts, meaning you may not be aware of all your child’s accounts. Monitor your child’s social media behaviors, follow your children on social media, and talk to them about cyberbullying.
- Be aware of the signs of bullying. Does your child dread going back to school – more than usual? Does your child feign illness to stay home from school? Have your child’s grades dropped, their friends changed, or their behaviors or personality altered? While it’s not necessarily bullying, any personality changes or changes in eating, sleeping, or socialization habits should be investigated.
- Talk to your child about bullying and what they can do. Tell your child to look directly into the eyes of a bully and to speak calmly without getting angry. Teach your child to walk away and to find a safe adult. Discuss places they can go where they can be safe. Encourage your child to report bullying against themselves or against others. The more you communicate openly and the more your child knows what steps they can take and understands that they can talk to you, the more likely they are to come to you when they have a problem.
- Learn together. Websites such as Stomp Out Bullying and Stop Bullying have lots of resources to help you learn more. You’ll find tips, step-by-step instructions for dealing with a bully and ways you can start a conversation with your child about this difficult topic. Go over some of these resources together and talk about what you’ve learned.
- Encourage your child to make healthy relationship choices. If your child has strong friends who will back them up and stick by them, they may be less vulnerable. If your child is struggling to socialize, consider counseling or socialization activities which will help them build confidence and find friends who make them feel better about themselves.
- Talk to the school. If your child is being targeted by bullies, contact the school and make sure the school board knows. The school has an obligation to keep your child safe. If they fail to do so, they may be held liable for injuries your child has sustained as a result of their negligence.
- Gather any evidence you can. If your child is contacted through social media or online, print out the texts and e-mails, even if they are painful. Approaching the school and bullies’ parents with evidence in hand can help them take this situation more seriously. You can also use the evidence if you decide to file a claim or go to the police with the situation
If your children have been injured through bullying, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation with a Hollywood child injury attorney. Our attorneys can help you understand whether you have a claim and can help you pursue your rights.