Hearing that your child or your teen inflicted harm on someone else is heart-wrenching. No parent would want to receive a call from the school or from another parent and learn that their child has been causing pain on other kids.
In the United States, one in seven kids in grades K through 12 is either a bully or has been bullied in school. Six out of 10 teenagers express that they witness bullying in school at least once a day. One out of 10 students who dropped out of school did so due to bullying. There are about 160,000 children who miss school every day due to fear of encountering their bullies. These statistics are unsettling, to say the least, and indicate that bullying is a serious and pressing problem we face today.
What should you do if your child is a bully?
Address the issue right away. Be timely in resolving the matter. Once you learn that your child has hurt someone in school, talk to your child immediately. Do so in a calm and firm tone, and make sure that you prepare or outline what you are going to tell your child – this way, you are able to properly send your message across without your emotions getting in the way. However, this does not mean that you must not show any emotion. Show empathy by listening to your child and asking questions that will help your child understand how his behavior affects others, such as “Is what you did respectful? Would you want the same to be done to you?”
Be firm and consistent with consequences. Let your child understand that bullying is a choice that he or she made and that his or her behavior warrants consequences. Be organized about it – write down the consequences, follow through them, review them every week, and enforce them. Consequences may include eliminating something your child cherishes like their mobile phone or internet access. What can also help is having your child reflect and write about the incident – have him or her assume the position of the child he or she bullied and describe how he or she feels. Make him or her write an apology letter once he or she has regained privileges and his or her calm.
Work with the school. It can be hard to step up and risk being judged as a bad parent, but remember that it is to your advantage to work with the school in creating a safer environment for your child and his or her peers. Meet up with your child’s teacher, as well as the school’s counselor, principal, and administrators. Work with them in addressing your child’s behavior and the problem of bullying in general.
Work on your child’s emotional and social skills. Nip the problem in the bud by building skills for resolving conflict and handling difficult situations. These skills include self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision-making, and resiliency. Ask around and look for after school programs and extracurricular activities that can help develop these skills and help your child build positive relationships.
Is your child suffering from bullying in his school? Contact us at Hogan Injury for a consultation.
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