Bullying is unfortunately common in schools. According to U.S. Government’s anti-bullying initiative Stop Bullying, about 28% of students nationally reported that they were bullied, 30% said they are bullies and 70% said they’ve witnessed the act of bullying. On a more local level, 16.7% of students in San Diego claimed to have been bullied on school property, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control.
Students tend to hide that they are victims of bullying because they fear that involving adults might make the situation worse. Educators, friends and family play an important role in identifying these situations amongst loved ones and addressing them appropriately.
For example, elementary school teacher Lisa Bologna supports her students by creating a comfortable and open space within her classroom.
“We [Bologna and her students] hold a classroom meeting every day where we discuss things like bullying and what to do if you are being bullied,” says Bologna. “We discuss what bullying looks like among friends, acquaintances, and peers. We talk about who to tell and when.”
As illustrated above, communication and education are key elements to approach bullying.
The national Stop Bullying Initiative defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” Bullying involves physical attacks amongst peers and verbal threats, rumors and ridicule in both the physical and cyber environment. Recognizing the warning signs of bullying is an important first step.
5 Warning Signs that Your Child is Potentially Being Bullied
1) Change in behavior
If your child is acting differently or in a more negative manner, this may be a sign that they are experiencing a stressful situation.
2) Lack of communication
Some children may withdraw themselves from conversations with family and avoid talking about their day at school.
3) Lack of motivation academically, socially and physically
Bullying can negatively impact your child’s ability to focus on school, friends and other activities they may be involved in.
4) Unexplainable injuries
If your child comes home with mysterious injuries or pain, they may be having physical altercations at school.
5) Repeated loss of belongings
Bullies may take your child’s belongings or damage them.
If you think your child is being bullied, it is important to consider the following steps to help your child resolve the issue.
5 Ways to Help Your Child Address Bullying
1) Listen and talk with your child
It is crucial to understand the situation and identify if there is or is not a specific reason the situation is occurring.
2) Ask your child what can be done to make them feel safe
Your idea of a solution may not align with your child’s. Therefore, it is important for you to focus on the child’s needs to feel safer.
3) Advise your child on how to avoid another incident
Giving your child advice or practicing role playing can help prepare your student in case another incident occurs.
4) Meet with the school principal, teacher or a counselor to discuss the situation
It is best to not contact other parents or guardians directly. Parents and guardians are very protective of their children, thus it is better to have school officials mediate the situation.
5) Follow-up with your child
Discuss with your child and school officials after the attempted resolution to put an end to the bullying.
School districts in San Diego County take bullying very seriously. If you feel that your child may be involved with bullying, here are additional resources to guide parents and guardians on how to address the issue:
Article submitted by Mindy Pothongsunun, Communications Assistant, Live Well San Diego Support Team