Everyone is back into the full swing of fall. School is in its second week and parents and kids alike are settling back into school year routines. For many kids school is exciting. It’s a fresh start, an opportunity to learn and meet new friends. Unfortunately some kids have been dreading the return to school and the bullying that accompanies it. Bullying can be physical and include actions such as pushing, kicking, hitting and tripping. It can also be emotional and might be expressed through taunts, name calling, and teasing. More common for adolescent girls is also social bullying which involves ignoring or leaving someone out and/or rumor spreading.
Bullying is not a new problem. However in the last few years there has been more attention paid to bullying as it has changed forms. While face-to-face bullying no doubt still exists cyber bullying, or bullying through electronic means like social networking sites or text messaging, has created new ways for bullies to torment victims. Previously bullying might be done either by one individual or a small group. With cyber bullying there is no limit on the number of people who can participate. It is because of cyber bullying that we have heard of the suicides of several adolescents across the country. While there is no easy solution to dealing with bullying, here are a couple of things to keep in mind if your child is experiencing bullying.
1) Tell someone. Tell the teacher, contact school administrators. Schools have taken a no tolerance stance against bullying whether it occurs on or off school grounds. The more people who know, the more supports you have.
2) Monitor your child’s online activities. Keep the computer in a family space and check in on their social media sites. Cell phones may be the way that kids communicate now days, but that doesn’t mean that it should go unmonitored. Know who your kids are talking to and what about.
3) Talk with your kids about online behavior. It is not a pleasant thought to think that your child might be involved in sexting (sexual text messages) or taking nude photos. Unfortunately parents of adolescents need to be realistic. We live in a hypersexualized culture and many youth are involved in this type of activity without really understanding the repercussions. The time to have these conversations is in the pre-teen years, because if you wait until your child is a teen, it might be too late.
4) Empower your child. Make sure your child has activities/hobbies in their life that they are passionate and excited about. Bullying is damaging to our self-worth, how we value ourselves as a person. Having activities to participate in provides your child with an outlet, gives them the opportunity to meet positive people, and can increase their confidence and build self-worth.
For additional resources and support please check out Stop a Bully at http://www.stopabully.ca/ Not only does this site provide tools if your child is experiencing bullying, but it also allows anyone who is bullied or witness bullying to report it to school officials at any school across Canada. Please don’t suffer in silence or sit back and watch. The health and wellbeing of all children requires everyone to take a stand against bullying.