Across the country children are faced with bullying on a daily basis, whether it be at school, on the web or at after school activities or sports. Schools frequently confront the issue with awareness months, anti-bullying programs, reward incentives and counseling classes. However, finding a solution that actually works is complicated and an uphill battle with almost 22% of school aged kids getting bullied. There are several different types of bullying; physical, verbal, relational (or social) and cyber bullying. With cyber bullying being an "easy" way to bully, due to increased access to the internet, children can say just about anything to anyone anytime with a single click of a button and it is there forever. 42% report being cyber bullied and 20% of those report they have thought about suicide due to bullying. Those numbers are alarming especially when you hear that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among youth.
Trying to solve the problem might seem impossible, but it is crucial as parents and adults we get involved. We can start off by opening the lines of communication and speaking to our children, helping them understand bullying from all perspectives. Share facts and or statistics with them, show them articles and true stories. Ask them questions, not just about themselves, but their friends. Encourage them to do what they love and enjoy. Doing activities can help boost confidence and help protect them from bullying behaviors. Lastly, lead by example, model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
Many parents view bullying as just part of growing up. Often they do not realize the devastating effects it is having on their own children. There's the conflicting statements of "stand up for yourself", "handle it yourself" and "no one likes a tattle tale" mentality. Then there is the opposite perspective of "report it to an adult right away" and "don't try to handle it on your own". The two clearly send conflicting messages to an already confused and struggling child, making their next decision even more difficult. This is why having that open line of communication is so important to have. It makes the child comfortable sharing the information with an adult. You might not be able to solve the problem entirely, but giving support, comfort and advice will give him or her the trust and confidence to either report it, or come back in the future to talk.
Help combat bullying in all its forms by carrying on the discussion, be proactive, ask questions and always be supportive to help keep our children safe in all aspects of life!
If your child is the victim of bullying you should immediately report it to the police and if at school, to the school Principal, disciplinary officer and teacher. Follow up in writing; an email you can save is sufficient. If your child has suffered physical or severe emotional harm as a result of bullying, you may have a claim for money damages against the school, facility or even the bully's parent's home owner's insurance. Call us at 520-790-5600 or write [email protected] with your questions or to determine if you have a case.