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What is Bullying?

Repeated and intentional acts of violence, physical or non-physical, that are used by a person/persons to take power and control from another person/persons.

What is bullying NOT?

A disagreement, a conflict, a fight between individuals of equal strength or power; an aggressive child who is too young to have intent to control.

What can I do to help my child avoid becoming a bullying victim?

Create an environment where the child is valued. Engage in family activities that provide the child with their basic social needs: belonging, being recognized, and being cared about/caring about others. Allow the child to learn how to navigate the age-appropriate trials they encounter. DO NOT FIX ALL OF YOUR CHILD’S PROBLEMS FOR THEM. They will not learn the skills necessary to deal with the trials they will encounter as they age. Create a safe environment where your child can come to you without fear of punishment or retribution.

What can I do to prevent my child from becoming a bully?

The same as avoiding becoming a victim. Value your child. Be sure that your child is getting all of their social needs met in healthy ways. Many bullies act out to feel like they belong or to be recognized as strong or worthy. Be conscious of your own actions and interactions. Many bullying behaviors are learned, so be aware of how you interact with others. Lead by example by always showing respect to others. Keep open lines of communication so your child feels safe to discuss social issues with you.

How can I tell if my child is being bullied?

If your child comes home with unexplained bruises or scratches or if your child seems to be getting injured more often. Frequent, unexplained illnesses or difficulty sleeping. If your child becomes more introverted and wants to spend less time outside of the home. Some victims of bullying will act out aggressively, so if your child begins getting into trouble at school it can be a red flag. Unexplained loss or damage to child's personal possessions. Unexplained fear of school, the bus or other social situations. A significant drop in grades or interest in normal activities. If your child begins to act very differently,
it should cause, at minimum, an honest discussion.

What should I do if my child tells me that they are being bullied?

First and foremost, listen to your child and be supportive of their feelings. Get as many details as you can before you
state your opinion. NEVER tell your child to ignore the bullying. Likely, if it was something they could have ignored, they would not have told you. Do not blame your child for the incident(s). Empathize with how your child is feeling. Be clear
with your child that if their safety and well-being are at risk, it is imperative that other people become involved. Talk
with your child about the ways they have already tried to stop the bullying and discuss additional techniques that they
could use. Do not encourage your child to use physical violence as a tactic. Try to keep your emotions in check and
do not tell your child what to do or how to handle the situation if you are unsure. Do not be afraid to tell your child that you, also, need  help in finding a solution. This is an ideal time to enroll your child in a program, or seek an
 intervention that will teach them resiliency and skills to cope with adversity.

Should I let my child handle it or should I get involved?

Each child and set of circumstances is different, and you will have to use your best judgment based on your child's abilities and emotional capabilities. However, if your child's health and welfare are at risk, you should certainly intervene.

When should I involve the school?

If your child is at the point where they are reaching out to you for help, it is clear that they cannot handle the situation on their own. If the incident(s) are mainly occurring at/on the way to school, ask your child if they notified anyone at the school previously. If so, inquire about the outcome. The school should be notified as soon as the connection is made that the  abuse is occurring during school hours or on school property. This is not limited to the school day. This would also apply to school sponsored activities, regardless of time or location.

Should I involve the police?

If all attempts to rectify the situation have not succeeded and your child's health and well-being  are at risk, you should consider involving the police. It is unlawful to harass, threaten, batter or injure another person. There is no age restriction on this law. If your child is being injured and you are fearful, you should contact your local law enforcement.

Who in the community can I reach out to for additional assistance?

See Resources tab