Many have heard the hurtful words, felt the embarrassment, and sometimes, experienced the physical pain of bullying. A lot of t(w)eens will face bullies when they go back to school this year. Here are a few action steps on how you and your student can handle the unfortunate normal of being bullied if it happens to them.
Don’t Go It Alone.
Whether your t(w)een is dealing with exclusion, lies and rumors, teasing, threats or physical abuse – remind them it’s critical to tell an adult (or at least a friend) what is happening. “If your student doesn’t have a support system, over time the negative things a victim of bullying is subjected to can be internalized becoming a truth,ˮ June Anderson, LPC, LAC, QMHP, MS Family Pathways counselor at Behavior Management Systems, explained.
Don‘t Fight. It Won’t Solve Anything.
The last thing your t(w)een needs is a trip to the principal’s office because they couldn’t contain their anger. Although bullying can be embarrassing or make them angry, hitting or screaming won’t help. Stress the importance of communicating kindly to their bully – if they feel comfortable confronting them at all.
Walk Away Confidently.
When the bully approaches, tell your t(w)een to walk away as if they don’t care, like they would from a stranger. “The goal of the bully is to make the other person feel powerless and themselves powerful,ˮ June said. “If the person doesn’t react, it takes away power from the bully and the victim remains empowered.ˮ
Keep the Evidence.
Cyberbullying is a digital nightmare that many students will deal with in today’s media-filled world. It’s crucial for them to file away every email, text and chat message sent to and from the bully. Show your t(w)een how to save the evidence and encourage them to share it with you.
Create a Plan Together.
Create a plan together with your t(w)en leading the way. You can suggest ways to respond to the bully when they are confronted or trying new groups and making other friends. If the situation your t(w)een is facing has gone beyond teachersʼ and supervisorsʼ help – contact the school officials or the police to talk about your options.
There are a lot of steps to take to prepare students for an uncertain battle, but as a parent, the most important thing you can do for your student is to be there for them. “Everyone deserves to feel safe,ˮ June said. “They have the right to be in a safe and violent-free atmosphere.ˮ