If you are a parent with a child who is getting bullied at school, it is difficult to know how to resolve the situation effectively. Kids and teens are often the victims of bullying, and they are often afraid to ask for help. They may be afraid of being seen as weak, getting in trouble themselves, or increasing the violence or harassment.
Schools aren’t the only places where bullies prey on others. They may also be lurking:
- In parks, retail plazas and shopping malls
- In the workplace, both in full and part-time jobs
- In neighbourhood streets adjacent to schools and community centres
- On social media and on instant messaging channels like SnapChat
Here’s how to recognize the signs and symptoms of bullying. Further, how to take action to resolve it before it escalates into something painful.
Pink Shirt Day, which takes place in late February, was pioneered by a group of teens in Nova Scotia a few years ago. A new Grade 9 student in their school was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Instead of “piling on” with those who were making fun, the teens chose to stand up for the young man. In the process, they created an annual wave of antibullying activism across Canada.
Here are some tips to keep in mind year round, and communicate with your family about them.
It’s important to recognize the difference between conflict and bullying. If there is a single argument, or even a physical fight, that doesn’t necessarily mean someone is being bullied. If there is ongoing harassment, intimidation, and/or emotional abuse, you have a case of a bully or bullies taking you, or your child for a painful ride.
If another child or teen is being rude or mean to your child, but doesn’t seek out, follow or confront them, it’s a different sort of behaviour, but also report it to the school if that is where the abusive behaviour takes place.
If you are a parent or guardian of a child or teen who has mentioned they were harassed at school, you need to take the situation seriously. Find out the cause and nature of the bullying, such as:
- If they are under pressure to give up money, belongings or even sexual acts
- Unwanted physical touching, name calling or pursuit
- Spreading of rumours, photographs or videos
- Sharing photos on Facebook, Instagram and/or making comments
- Bullying in online games, where language and behaviour can be extremely rough
If your child or teen seems withdrawn, avoids social events they previously enjoyed, or regularly wants to avoid school, these are signs of bullying.
The Canadian Federal Government offers some great tips on how to spot the signs of Cyberbullying, and act accordingly. If your child suddenly avoids using their computer or mobile device, or quickly shut them off when you come to the room, it is likely a sign of bullying.
If you feel a sibling, friend, schoolmate or a loved one is bullied at their school or otherwise, don’t immediately confront the offender or their parents. Kids Help Phone offers some great ways for kids and teens to recognize if they are getting bullied, are bullying others, and what to do to end it.
The best rule of thumb if you are the victim, know the victim or see the victim of bullying is not to take matters into your own hands. Tell somebody who will take action. Don’t react with confrontation or retaliation, ask for help.
If you, your child or teen has been the target of a bully, seek help from:
- Law enforcement
- School administration such as principals or teachers you and/or your child or teen trust
- In the case of cyberbullying, you can contact the social media site, internet service providers or block the person and tell a parent or guardian
Retaliation or confrontation can escalate the situation. If your child says they are having problems at school, be supportive, understanding but objective. If you need inspiration, check out some of the “Tales” on the PinkShirtDay.ca website.
If you’d like to make a difference, and help to prevent bullying of all kinds, participate in a Pink Shirt Day event, purchase an official Pink Shirt, or even rock one of your own! There are lots of opportunities to #pinkitforward on social media and rally your friends and colleagues.
Don’t be a bully, or allow bullying to occur in family, school, or your neighbourhood. Let’s look out for each other, Canada! Let’s stop bullying everywhere!