By: Dyan Eybergen BA,RN,ACPI
Everyone has a responsibility in making their communities, homes and schools a safe and happy place for kids to be. Every year, thousands of kids are victimized by bullies and suffer the effects of fear and humiliation without support. Children do not always speak up when they’re being harassed because they are often embarrassed or afraid the bully will seek revenge on them. Bullying is not so-called “normal teasing behavior” that all kids “go through”. It is a deliberate, repeated hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. It is a recurring act with the intent to harm. It is not a normal part of growing up; it is hurtful, and the lasting effects on those bullied can be devastating.
Bullying happens once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.(Pepler et al., 1997)
If you are aware that a child is being bullied, here are 7 ways in which you can prevent and stop the bulling behavior:
- Support the child. Let the child know you are there to support them and that you will do all you can to help them feel safe
- Work with the School. Schools and parents need to work together to prevent and stop bullying. Parents need to make the school aware when there is a bullying incident and the school needs to develop a plan for supervision and intervention out on the playground and during lunch time and foster a climate where all students are safe, cared for and can access help if they need it.
- Make a safety plan. If the bullying happens on route to and from school, parents can arrange for their child to go with older, supportive children, or be available to transport the child back and forth. Talk to the child about safety in numbers and encourage them to stick with a group when walking.
- Help build the child’s confidence. Help children develop confidence in their social skills by encouraging them to get involved in extracurricular activities and school clubs that share similar interests.
- Practice appropriate responses to the bully. Help children rehearse what to say to someone who is bullying them: “Stop it, I don’t like it” with assertiveness and walk away.
- Increase self-esteem. Set the child up for success by providing opportunities where they can exercise their strengths and talents. When children do well it provides them with positive feelings about themselves and their capabilities.
- Communicate. Create a milieu of unconditional regard where the child is encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings.