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What Parents Can Do About Bullying

With the start of a school year, kids and teens often face new and stressful situations. Unfortunately, one of the main sources of stress can come from their classmates – bullying. Trond Harman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Keystone Pediatrics Chambersburg, shares some important information all parents should know about the subject of bullying.

What are some clues that your child may be bullying others?

The main thing that you want to check on is your child’s social media accounts. This is the best way to tell because many kids will use this to bully other children. Some kids may not even realize that things they are putting on their social media accounts are considered bullying until their parents let them know. You may see other changes in your child’s behaviors, such as acting more intimidating, changes in language, increased back-talking, etc.

What steps should be taken if you feel your child is bullying others?

The first step is discussing with the child what behaviors they are showing that are considered bullying. Then ask them if they are being bullied themselves. Kids who are bullied will sometimes become bullies themselves as a way to feel better emotionally. Another question to ask your child is whether someone is putting them up to bullying or if they are being pressured to bully others. There are many problems with gangs and other groups pressuring kids to engage in behaviors as a way of initiation. Ask yourself: Has your child been angrier recently or do you notice them engaging in behaviors that you would not approve of? Finally, you should be aware of what behaviors you might be displaying that could cause your child to think that bullying is okay. As a parent myself, I sometimes question if some of what I might say or do would give my children a signal that being mean to others is okay.

What are signs your child or teen may be suffering from bullying?

There can be numerous signs that your child is being bullied. The main one is school avoidance or social isolation. I hear many parents tell me that their child is reluctant to go to school and it is a fight to get them out the door. Many times, I will speak to the child and they will state that they are being bullied at school, but were too afraid to tell their parents because the bully will threaten them. The child may not like to engage in previously enjoyable activities. They may cry more easily or even attempt to take something to school to protect themselves. It is not uncommon for a child to attempt to carry a pocket knife to school.

What steps should you take if you do find your child is a victim of bullying?

You need to be supportive. The parent needs to reassure the child that everything will be ok. Things will get better and we will support you through this struggle. Parents should talk to the school and see how they can help with resolving the issue. If the situation is severe enough, it may have to go to the authorities, but that is normally something the school can decide. I would have your child speak to a school counselor as soon as possible to determine how much effect this situation has had on them based on how long they have been victimized. If the symptoms are serious enough, then you may want to seek professional help immediately.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.