No parent wants it to happen to their child, but bullying is everywhere (even adults do it!), so there’s a good chance that your kiddo will experience bullying at some point in their lives.
If/When your child tells you they’ve been bullied:
- Try your best to stay calm (at least when in front of your kiddo). If you need to call someone later and vent, yell, curse like a sailor, etc., then go for it, but your child needs a calm adult to talk to about this. Remember that you are always modeling for them!
- Empathize with your child; validate their feelings and validate that what the “bully” is doing is not Ok. When your kiddo comes to you and shares they’re being bullied, it’s really easy to jump into “MAMA BEAR” mode and declare war against the bully, his/her parents, and the school. You can do that (see step 4!), BUT before you do, make sure you provide the emotional support that your child needs. Talk to them about what the bully did, how it made them feel. Tell them that you’re sorry it happened and you wish you could make the hurt go away. Tell them that you are going to do everything within your power to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Make sure your kiddo feels heard!
- Talk to your kiddo about what they should do IF the bullying happens again. Have them identify 3-4 safe adults they can immediately seek help from. If age appropriate, talk to them about how bullies typically do what they do because they enjoy the reaction from others; therefore, teaching your kiddo to ignore as best they can might make it “boring” for the other kid, who will then stop.
- Talk to the necessary adults to attempt to get the bullying to stop. This might be teachers, principal, guidance counselor, or the “bully” kiddo’s parents.
STOMP Out Bullying has an amazing step-by-step guide for how to work with the school:
- “Find out pertinent and detailed information about what the bullies are doing, dates, times, places, actions, etc. Document everything.
- Find out any threats that have been made toward your child, and if it pertains to outside of school; contact the police.
- Contact the school during hours of operation and make an appointment with the principal for a face to face meeting.
- Outline the details, not in an angry rant, but as if you were telling a friend what occurred.
- Obtain a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy to determine if the bully violated a school policy.
- When you meet with the school principal, tell your child’s story and ask for help.
- Relate the facts and leave your emotions out of it. If you feel the bully has violated the school’s anti-bullying policy, bring this up calmly into the conversation.
- Ask what you can do together to stop the bullying. Write down everything he said and agreed to do, because you are going to hold him accountable for it.
- Send a thank-you letter to the principal, recapping what he or she said and agreed to do along with our Bullying Prevention Bill Of Rights For Parents and Students which you can copy and paste onto your own letterhead. This will put the principal on notice and on the alert that you are watching for a resolution to the problem.
- Follow up with your child to see if the bullying stops, and follow up with the principal.
- If the harassment continues, document it and file a Notice of Harassment. You may need to move up the chain of command, contacting the superintendent of schools, board of education, or possibly even state and federal authorities.
- If your child has been threatened contact law enforcement immediately.
- If your child has been cyberbullied, check the school’s anti-bullying policy as well as your state anti-bullying legislation to see if cyberbulling is covered under the aegis of the school. If it is, report that to the school as well. Absolutely report it to the police, as well as the ISP provider, the social media web site, wherever it is taking place.
- If the bullying does not stop you should file charges with the school board and law enforcement if appropriate.”