How You Can Help Now
There are four things parents and guardians can do now to help children who are experiencing bullying:
Stop and listen when your child is being bullied. We need to take complaints seriously. It's easy to think “bullying toughens kids up in helpful ways,” but it's just not the case. Being bullied—and bullying others—has very serious and negative consequences, and it's a signal that the child is in trouble.
If your child is a victim of bullying, you can offer your help and support in any number of ways. First, it is most important to take immediate steps to protect the target of bullying. If your child is being bullied, confer with other caring adults in your child's life (teacher, counselor or principal)—they are there to be your partners. It is also important to respond to the bully. To get to the root of the issue, we need to understand why the bully is acting this way. Bullies are typically students who are in some sort of trouble and need adult help in addressing unmet needs. Occasionally, educators may not take parental reports of bullying seriously. If this occurs, ask the person why they are not taking this seriously. If their answer does not make sense to you, talk to their supervisor or superior.
Learn and Show
Ask your child about bullying to better understand how it manifests in school. Explain why it's important to be an upstander and point out real life, relevant examples. Make upstander behavior an implicit—or explicit—model of relating with the world. Click here to view some activities educators are using to promote upstander behavior in the classroom.
Partner with Educational Leaders
Parents and guardians can and need to partner with teachers and school administrators to create comprehensive and helpful bully prevention and pro-upstander efforts! We cannot do this alone. Effective effects, by definition, need to be a long-term school-home and community partnership that is committed to recognizing and helpfully addressing bully-victim behavior as well as promoting the skills, knowledge and dispositions that support upstander behavior.