Your child is being terrorized by a bully. What do you do?
Years ago, this kind of situation was easy to handle. Your child could fight back, defend themselves, and the matter would be concluded. Or, you could go talk to the school principal, and the matter would be handled right away.
Today, that’s not true. And, bullying has gotten over the top. Here’s how to deal with it.
The hardest thing to do is to stay calm, but you must do it. When you talk to the school administrators, you want to appear civil, engaged, and caring. You don’t want to be the crazy parent that’s out for blood. That’s the best way to be dismissed by the school.
Document All Injuries And Bullying
Make sure you’ve got excellent records of everything that went down. Every time your kid was bullied, keep a record of it. Write down who, where, what, why, and how things happened. Encourage your child to speak freely about being bullied. When your child comes home from school, and has a story, find out what it is.
Don’t Ignore Your Child Or The Bullying
While you don’t want to overreact, you also don’t want to underreact. Occasionally, parents do this to the detriment of the child. Most bullies feel empowered when their victims ignore them. It’s a sign that what they’re doing is OK so it’s like permission to keep on bullying. But, when you stand up to a bully, and you point out the fact that initiating force, and intimidating your child is wrong — morally and legally — you immediately draw a line in the sand.
You also (usually) stop a bully from continuing with the bullying. For bullies who are “experimenters,” they should stop immediately when you confront them. Experimenters are people who aren’t really that skilled with bullying, but they’re trying it out to see if they can get away with it. The old-fashioned bully may have grown up in a broken home or may have been abused. Or, they may have other motivations for what they do. Either way, their goal is to intimidate.
The elite bully is “over the top” and willing to do almost anything. Then, there’s the victim-turned-victimizer. These can be the worst of the bunch.
Don’t Be Satisfied With Excuses
Sometimes, a school may try to ignore the issue by saying, in effect, “there’s nothing we can do.” Do not let this go. Demand that something be done, or the police will be involved. And, if necessary, you will retain a lawyer, like RogersandMoss.com. This is an issue where force, or the threat of force, is being initiated against an innocent child.
This is the most serious of issues. If the school is not willing to take it seriously, keep fighting until you find someone who will. It may be a lawyer.
Social Media and Cyber Bullying
Just because it happens online, doesn’t mean it needs to stay online. Shut down all social media accounts immediately and get a new cell phone number, private email account for your kid. You don’t need to make threats to the bully. You just need to act. If you know the bully’s ISP, you can contact them and have their private email account shut down. Also, contact the bully’s parents and be ready to provide proof of bullying.
Don’t Minimize It
When parents of bullies are in denial, they will often try to downplay or minimize it. This is called “making a molehill out of a mountain.” It’s the reverse of the popular saying “mountain out of a molehill.” In other words, instead of blowing things out of proportion, they’re doing the opposite and not giving the issue the attention it truly deserves.
Don’t let this happen. Make them face the facts, and restate that bullying is a crime because it is a threat of force (or actual force, depending on how far the bullying has gone). And, it’s unwelcome and unacceptable.
Never Blame Your Child
Some parents accidentally (or purposefully) try to lay blame at the child’s feet. When your child is being bullied, never insinuate that it could be their fault. It almost never is, anyway. Some parents might ask “what did you do to provoke him/her?” The reality is that bullies are irrational, and they are often provoked for irrational reasons.
You cannot expect your child to read minds or tiptoe around everyone. While you do want your child to take responsibility for his or her life, and own their own problems, some problems originate from causes which they simply cannot be blamed for. Bullying is just one example of this.
Daniel Cooke is an elementary school principal. He likes to write about what he has learned in his daily work life. You can read his articles mainly on education and parenting sites.