How to Address Bullying
Being bullied hurts. Bullying can occur verbally, physically, and socially, in person, or through social media. It is the unwanted and repeated targeting by others that involves a real or perceived power dynamic that has been shown to be one of the most modifiable risk factors for mental health and well-being. Effects are both immediate and can last into adulthood. Certain groups of children may be more prone to being bullied. Children who are shy, seen as different, LGBT youth, and children with special needs are at higher risk of being bullied.
Although the problem persists, much work has occurred to address the problem of bullying. These include national efforts, such as the First Lady’s initiative on addressing cyberbullying, state laws, and local efforts by school districts through school-wide bullying prevention programs.
Here are some tips for the start of the new school year to help you or someone you know address bullying:
- Look for warning signs. These can be a noticeable shift in behavior or statements about school or spending more or less time with certain kids. Other signs can be a drop-in grades or lost or damaged belongings. It is important, too, to look out for signs that your child may be bullying others.
- Be a good role model for your child. Look for opportunities to model how to deal with difficult situations. In addition, the quality of the parent-child relationship, one that is warm and responsive, helps kids have better relationships with peers and have better skills to deal with peer conflict.
- Talk to your child and really listen. It is important to not dismiss a child’s concerns about being bullied.
- Help your child come up with solutions to being bullied. Several solutions might be better. Practice these solutions through role-play.
- Monitor your child’s social media and talk to them about healthy use of social media. Be proactive and have set rules in place.
- If the problem persists, consider seeking additional help. Therapists can work directly with a child or with a child’s parents on developing a clear plan on how to deal with bulling and how to address any emotional harm that may have occurred from bullying.
Comments and opinions are from Justin A. Naylor, PsyD, alone. He is a psychologist who treats patients using LiveHealth Online Psychology.