What was once considered a “rite of passage,” bullying today is a serious problem that can have lifelong consequences. With a new school year just beginning, many parents share concerns that their child will be bullied while at school. Studies show that most school bullying occurs inside the school, so this is a genuine concern. A bully can turn a harmless event such as going to the bus stop or eating lunch in the cafeteria into a nightmare.
When confronted by a bully, different scenarios require different responses. Here are a few examples:
If a bully comes up to a child and starts teasing and/or calling names, the best response is no response. Advise your child to remain calm and not retaliate by getting caught up in a verbal exchange. Otherwise, it’s like “feeding the troll,” because this is exactly what the bully wants. Simply walk away and say something positive like, “Have a nice day!” Another alternative is to find a different seat or step out of line.
If a child is slouching or hunched forward, this often indicates they are anxious or submissive. If a child can adopt a confident posture while sitting or standing and look people calmly in the eye, bullies are more likely to pass them by in search of more timid prey.
Stand your ground
Sometimes a child may be cornered by one or more bullies with no escape in sight. If this happens, the child should raise their voice and say, “STOP! Please let me pass!” Speaking loudly calls attention to the problem and will hopefully bring help. If the confrontation becomes physical, your child should know that he has the right to protect himself by fighting back. Enrolling in a martial arts class will help give your child the confidence and skills he needs – even if he never has to use them.
Contact the authorities
Please know that if your child has been threatened or physically attacked, you should contact school officials immediately to determine if the local police should be involved. Be persistent, especially if the bullying seems to continue.
Finally, seek counseling through a qualified mental health professional so that your child doesn’t become overwhelmed and develop anxiety issues or become self-destructive. The sooner you can help your child get a handle on this situation, the better his or her quality of life will be.
More often than not, kids will not tell anyone if they are being bullied because of the fear of reprisal. Also, shame and humiliation add to the situation making a child feel even more isolated. To identify warning signs of bullying, read “When Your Child is Bullied” for more in-depth information on what bullying is and how to prevent it.