When you have a school-aged child, you have to keep the lines of communication open so that you know what is going on in your child’s day-to-day life. Good parents have an instinctive desire to protect their children both physically and psychologically. There are bullies at pretty much every school, and unfortunately there are also a few children that are relentlessly tormented by the bullies. If your child is being picked on, it is your responsibility to intervene. While your child may wish that he or she could handle the situation independently, it is often impossible to put the brakes on bullying without getting yourself and the school administrators involved.
How did you discover that your child was being targeted by a school bully? If your first indication was your child coming home tattered and beaten, then the situation has already evolved to a pretty serious level. Physical battery is completely intolerable, and you have to insist that your child be forthcoming about who harmed him or her. If your child is resistant about revealing the bully’s identity, you have to explain that this is not something to be embarrassed about and that it simply has to be stopped. Reassure your child that you are going to handle the matter in the most discrete fashion possible, and that you promise that you will see the situation through so that it is truly resolved. The bullying child is the one who is in the wrong here. Although you may be understandably inclined to feel very angry with the bullying child, you should try to be compassionate as well. It is highly likely that the bully has some personal problems and family issues that are contributing to his or her hostile and abusive behavior.
Helping your child get a bully of his or her back should not be a vigilante mission. Set up a meeting at your child’s school so that you can discuss the situation. Ideally, the bully’s parents or guardians, the kids’ teacher, and a school principal or administrator should all be present. You should ensure that some disciplinary measures will be taken – at least on the part of the school administration – so that the bullying child will learn that there are consequences to bad behavior. There is no way for you to ensure that the bully’s parents are going to punish their child, and it is even possible that the bully’s parents will be as difficult to deal with as their unruly child. Unfortunately, many bullies are simply modeling the behavior that they are taught at home by their parents, and that is why it is so crucial that the school administration administers their own punishment on the bully.
You should look at this bullying situation that your child is going through as a potential learning experience. Explain to your child that people with low self-esteem often take out their frustration on others. It certainly isn’t fair for your child to be held accountable for another kid’s self-worth issues, but your child will learn a valuable lesson if you can get him or her to understand that compassion and forgiveness are great gifts to give, even to a bully. If your child is able to grasp the healing powers of forgiveness, then this bullying experience will actually be an opportunity for your child to gain integrity and empowerment.
Physical bullying is a very serious matter, but verbal, emotional bullying can be every bit as painful to endure. If you child is being verbally battered by a peer, it can take a harsh emotional toll on his or her wellbeing. Kids can be cruel, and once a bully or a group of bullies has decided to pick on someone for whatever reason, they can often be unrelenting. Many times, bullies try to impress other children by teasing someone and making jokes at someone else’s expense. The torment is not warranted, and as a parent, you need to get involved so that it stops.
Step one should be getting in contact with your child’s teacher so that he or she is aware of the problem and can be alert to it. If your child is seated near the bully, you should insist that the seating be changed so that your child is as far away from the bully as possible. Don’t blame the teacher for the bullying – it is very difficult to observe every situation in a classroom full of students, and you want your child’s teacher to know that you understand that. However, once you have brought this matter to his or her attention, the teacher should be more than willing to assure you that it will be stopped. If the bullying persists after your discussion with your child’s teacher, you have no choice but to take the matter to the school administration.
Tragically, there are just some children who cannot escape the torment and bullying from their peers. If this is the case for your child, and has been for a full school year or more despite your continued intervention, then you should seriously consider taking very drastic measures to ensure your child’s safety and happiness. If it is financially and physically possible, you could take things so far as to switch schools so that your child can have a fresh start. You should also look out for your child’s mental health by setting up some counseling sessions – bullying can take a toll on a child, especially persistent bullying. Your child has to know that you will do whatever is necessary to make his or her life happy, safe, and bully-free.