Let's start the conversation about bullying and address it head on. Recognizing bullying behavior can be difficult sometimes; knowing what to do about it can be even harder. We need to talk to our children regardless if they are being bullied or the one showing bullying behavior.
Q- What signs should parents/caregivers look for that their child is being bullied at school?
Possible warning signs to look for in your child include:
- Not wanting to go to school.
- Being disengaged in any and/or all activities; social withdrawal.
- Changes in their appetite.
- Signs similar to what you would see with depression or other mental health concerns. (There are several articles under the HEALTH section of this website to reference for more information. https://www.parents-step-up.org/health/)
- Changes in participation in school-based activities.
- Parents need to be mindful and watchful of their children's social media usage, their child constantly wanting to be online and if they are being bombarded with negative information from others or seeking validation from others on social media.
Q- What are some suggestions you have for how parents/caregivers can start the conversation with their child about bullying behavior versus just mean behavior?
- Be sure you clearly are defining to your child what bullying means. There will always be those who are rude or disrespectful, but it isn’t bullying unless it is a repeated behavior and they feel targeted by one person or a group of people.
- Are they really just being mean, or are they really trying to demean your child?
- Talk about what’s happening: Is it happening repeatedly from one child? Is it going both ways? Are they seeking you out to target you?
Q- What do the schools consider bullying behavior?
- Bullying behavior is: Targeted, repeated behavior that is meant to cause mental, physical or emotional pain.
https://www.svvsd.org/files/18-19 BehCodeBkEng-Final.pdf please reference pages 31-32 of the Behavioral Code of Conduct Book for complete information.
Q- What steps do the schools take to help stop and prevent bullying behavior?
Information found on page 32 of the Behavioral Code of Conduct Book. Excerpt taken from this location. https://www.svvsd.org/files/18-19 BehCodeBkEng-Final.pdf
The principal of each school shall develop a program to address bullying appropriate for the age level served by that school. The program shall be aimed toward accomplishing the following goals:
- To send a clear message to students, staff, parents and community members that bullying and retaliation against a student who reports bullying will not be tolerated.
- To train staff and students in taking proactive steps to prevent bullying from occurring.
- To implement procedures for immediate intervention, investigation, and confrontation of students engaged in bullying behavior.
- To initiate efforts to change the behavior of students engaged in bullying behaviors through re-education on acceptable behavior, discussions, counseling, and appropriate negative consequences.
- To foster a productive partnership with parents/guardians and community members in order to help maintain a bully-free environment.
- To support victims of bullying by means of individual and peer counseling.
- To help develop peer support networks, social skills and confidence for all students.
- To recognize and praise positive, supportive behaviors of students toward one another on a regular basis.
Q- What steps should a parent/caregiver take if their child is being bullied or feels unsafe at school?
- Parents should start with a conversation with their child. Talk to your child about what is going well at school? What could be different? If they could change one thing what would it be, and why?
- Reach out to the school for additional help. Talk to their teacher; remember their teacher spends the most time with them and may have insight into what is happening. The counselors and/or administration can help as well.
Q- What steps should parents/caregivers teach their children to take if they feel they are being bullied? How can the child be taught to better advocate for themselves?
- Constantly remind your child that they don’t have to be treated that way; they are valued and they matter.
- Let your child know it is ok to ask for help.
- Teach them the basics of how we react when we are scared or afraid. Rarely do we fight back; be sure to reassure them that freezing or running away is a normal response.
- Help your child identify who is part of their support systems, at home and at school, and who do they feel comfortable going to for help.
- Help your child understand that asking for help is a strength in recognizing that some situations are beyond their ability to manage.
- Let your child know that adults intervening doesn’t always fix the situation; however, remind your children they need to keep advocating for themselves.
Q- What suggestions do you have for parents/caregivers to talk to children about not displaying bullying behavior?
- In many ways these supports are the same thing you would do for the child who is being bullied.
- Communication is important with both your child and the school.
- Parents should be involved in their children’s digital lives and monitor their online and social media usage.
Q- Do you have any additional resources or information you would like parents/caregivers to have?
Please check out these websites for additional information to the questions above.
Talk with your children about their role as the ‘bystander’ → role to protect others and when you see something say something; not your problem or my problem but our problem.