Your Child is Being Bullied, Now What?
These Are Steps to Take To Ensure Your Child Being Bullied Will Not Be Ignored
What to Do When Bullying is Downplayed
“I just found out that my teenager is being bullied. I’ve reported the bullying to the teacher and social worker but nothing has happened. My teen doesn’t want to go to school because it’s still going on. What do I do now?”
This is a question that gets asked often in our Moms of Tweens and Teens community.
It’s upsetting enough to find out that your child is being bullied, but when you feel like nothing is being done and you’re not being taken seriously what do you do?
What steps do you take to ensure that something will be done to make the bullying stop and to keep your teen safe?
Here are steps to take to help you support your child and to be effective communicating with the school to ensure the bullying stops:
When you find out:
Don’t minimize the problem.
It isn’t easy for a child to come to you and tell you they’ve been bullied. Unfortunately, chances are by the time they tell you it’s been going on for a long time and they’ve been beaten down emotionally, psychologically and possibly physically. It’s humiliating and there’s a long list of reasons kids suffer in silence.
Affirm your child for telling you.
It’s so important to tell your child you’re proud of them for showing the courage to tell you that this has been happening. The effects of bullying can be devastating to your child’s self-esteem.
When you affirm to your child that it took a lot of courage to talk about the bullying you’re helping them begin the process of healing.
Listen and Reassure.
Focus on listening rather than reacting (because it’s really hard not to get upset when we hear our kids have been bullied).
Don’t go into fix it mode. The less you say initially the better – the most important thing you can say is, “We will do whatever it takes to make sure the bullying stops and we will figure it out together.”
Before you talk to the school personnel
Document your child’s account of the incident(s) of bullying.
Record as much detail as possible, the what, where, dates and times the incidents occurred, the people involved and list if there were any witnesses.
If possible start with the teacher or social worker (more on this under if you feel ignored, the bullying is being downplayed, or nothing seems to be changing).
Get support if you need to from others before you talk to the school personnel so you’re less emotional and have an idea of what you want to say.
Prior to calling or meeting with a teacher, social worker, guidance counselor, or Principal, write down your goals for the conversation.
Write down specifically what you want and have it in front of you.
Research relevant school policies
Do your homework and read your school district’s policies on safety and bullying.
Find out what behaviors are prohibited and the response protocols that are stated will be implemented when these behaviors are observed or reported.
You may need to file a formal report in order to initiate these protocols.
On the call or in a meeting
Stay level-headed and goal focused. Bullying is very upsetting and it can sometimes be frustrating dealing with the school. When we’re feeling emotionally charged this can lead to accusations and put the school on the defensive. If you approach the school as partners they will be more likely to work with you.
Share your child’s experiences and make specific requests, “This is what I want to happen to resolve the problem…”
Name specific dates and times when the bullying occurred (they will be more likely to take you seriously).
Avoid the temptation to bash the bully or the school in any way.
Write down what is said.
Document responses word for word whenever possible.
Keep a record of who you talked to and how they plan to address the issue.
After the Call
Put in writing any agreed upon resolutions.
Follow up in an email to keep all parties included, informed and goal-directed.
You can say something like, “I wanted to follow-up on our conversation today. We discussed… and we agreed that you would… and I would…”
If the bullying is downplayed or ignored:
Keep talking until someone listens.
Continue to go up the chain of command.
Document everything (See above).
Seek to approach the school from the perspective of sharing information that will help them to better serve all of the students and help them to be more effective.
Keep asking for what you want. If you’re not feeling heard clarify what it is you are wanting to have happen.
Request that all involved parties sign a document that states what has been discussed, and what steps will be taken and agreed will be done.
Know when to contact local law enforcement.
If physical or sexual assault, vandalism, stalking, cyberbullying has been involved you may also want to report this to the local law enforcement. Schools may try to discourage this so they can handle matters internally, but if they aren’t responding responsibly then you need to consider this option to keep your child safe.
Continue to follow-up.
Once you feel that your concerns have been heard and that the school is addressing the bullying issue, set a time to follow-up on the progress.
Check-in with your child on a regular basis.
Ask your child how they’re doing to ensure that the bullying is being addressed and is in fact decreasing and that they are feeling safer at school.
Understand that healing needs to take place.
Empower your child and help them build back their self-esteem.
It’s important for your child to know that it’s not their fault and there is nothing wrong with them. At the same time, there are skills and steps they can learn so they will be less likely to be a target in the future.
Help them strengthen their assertiveness skills.
- Allow them to have their own opinions and to express their feelings, especially if they’re angry. Home should be a practice ground for learning to be authentic and standing up for what they think, want and believe.
- Ask them questions to solve their own problems rather than telling them what to do.
- Let your child know that their thoughts, feelings and opinions matter. This will help your child to become more confident and learn the skills to stand up for themselves.
- Role play and brainstorming ways that your child can stand up to bullying and defend themselves if needed.
The key is to empower your child to break free of any victim thinking and set them up so they won’t be a target in the future.
Get them professional help if they seem depressed, anxious or continue to act as if no matter what they do it will still happen again.
Excellent Video – Stop Bullying – You want to watch this with your kids – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKjW1OIjuw
https://bullying.org/ – has an excellent app for your child to download to help them overcome called Be Strong (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/be-strong/id1148602800?mt=8)
Know Bullying App Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfu6aUc3Y8Y