Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting kids. There are no “right or wrong” answers to these questions, but it is important to encourage kids to answer them honestly. Assure kids that they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise. Start conversations about bullying with questions like these:
- What does “bullying” mean to you?
- Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
- Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
- Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
- What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
- Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
- What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
- Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
- Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?
Tips for working with your child’s school if he or she is being bullied:
- Keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you. Record the names of the children involved, where and when the bullying occurred, and what happened.
- Immediately ask to meet with your child’s classroom teacher and explain your concerns in a friendly, non-confrontational way.
- Ask the teacher about his or her observations:
– Has he or she noticed or suspected bullying?
– How is your child getting along with others in class?
– Has he or she noticed that your child is being isolated, excluded from playground or other activities with students?
– Ask the teacher what he or she intends to do to investigate and help to stop the bullying.
- If you are concerned about how your child is coping with the stress of being bullied, ask to speak with your child’s guidance counselor or other school-based mental health professionals.
- Set up a follow-up appointment with the teacher to discuss progress.
- If there is no improvement after reporting bullying to your child’s teacher, speak with the school principal.
- Keep notes from your meetings with teachers and administrators.
These and other materials are available online at: www.stopbullying.gov
Are you considering counseling? Please reach out. Let’s work through this together.