Bullying is one topic parents hope they never have to encounter. Unfortunately, it happens all too in often, in a variety of different forms. Approximately 75% of children report that they have experienced bullying. The most common type of bullying is verbal bullying, followed by physical bullying and indirect bullying (spreading rumors, excluding others). Cyberbullying is also becoming more common; however, I’ll save that for the topic of next week’s blog.

Sadly, children do not always tell their parents that they’re being bullied. As a result, it’s important for parents to look for signs that their child is being bullied. Your child may be experiencing bullying if he/she:

  • Takes a different or long way to/from school
  • Doesn’t like going to school; fakes illnesses to stay home from school
  • Doesn’t care about schoolwork
  • Has a loss of appetite
  • Doesn’t have friends
  • Has troubles sleeping, including nightmares
  • Comes home from school with items that are torn, broken, or missing
  • Acts nervous, stressed out, grumpy, or sad, especially when getting home from school
  • Comes home with bruises, cuts, scratches

If you think your child may be experiencing bullying, the first step is to sit down and talk with them. Ask questions about bullying, be a good listener, stay calm, and show concern for your child. If your child is experiencing bullying, here are some important steps to support you child in handling the situation.

  • Find out more information about the bullying situation – Who, what, when, where, how often
  • Explain to your child that you will likely have to tell others about the situation, in order to protect him/her
  • Notify school faculty, and other adults who may be present when the bullying is taking place
  • Explain that if the incident happens again, your child needs to report it to an adult; Remind your child that this is telling someone about a dangerous situation, NOT tattling
  • Take photographs and keep a log of any evidence from the bullying incidents – Bruises, cuts, torn or damaged items, harassment notes
  • Brainstorm and role play strategies for handling the bullying situations
  • Help your child make friends by getting him/her involved in an organization
  • Spend time with your child, let them know they are loved and supported

Click here for more information on bullying.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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