Parent’s Guide to Bully Prevention

Be Aware & Stay Alert to Help Protect Your Child from this Harmful Behavior

Bullying comes in many forms: it can be physical, mental, verbal, emotional ‐ or even through texting or the internet. In whatever form, the effects can be psychologically devastating and can lead to depression and self harm. Parents, you can help protect your child from this aggressive and harmful behavior by recognizing the warning signs and knowing what steps to take should your child become a victim of bullying.

Understanding the Warning Signs

Children frequently do not tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed, ashamed or frightened of the children who are bullying them, or they are afraid of being seen as a “tattler”. That’s why parents need to understand and stay alert for important warning signs, such as these:

  • If your child comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings, or has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches;
  • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time; seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs);
  • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school; takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school;
  • Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home; complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments; has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams; experiences a loss of appetite; or appears anxious and suffers from low self‐esteem.

If You Suspect Your Child Is Being Bullied

Talk with your child to let them know that you are concerned and that you’d like to help. Also talk with staff at your child’s school. Call or set up an appointment to talk with your child’s teacher. He or she will probably be in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers at school. If you determine that your child is in fact being bullied, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following steps:

  • Empathize and let your child know that bullying is wrong and not their fault, and that you are glad that he or she had the courage to tell you about it. Learn as much as you can about the situation, and keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you. Record the names of the children involved, where and when the bullying occurred, and what happened.
  • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying, or blame your child for being bullied. If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don’t criticize, and never encourage physical retaliation (“Just hit them back”) as a solution. Hitting another student is not likely to end the problem, and it could get your child suspended or expelled or escalate the situation.
  • Work with your child’s teacher and school administrators in a non‐confrontational way to help solve the problem as quickly as possible. For tips on how to talk about bullying with educators, please visit: www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov

Source: U.S Department of Health and Human Services

Help Your Child Become More Resilient to Bullying

  1. Help to develop talents or positive attributes of your child. Suggest and facilitate music, athletics and art activities. Doing so may help your child be more confident among his or her peers.
  2. Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students, and help your child meet new friends outside of school. A “new” environment can provide a “fresh start” for a child who has been bullied repeatedly.
  3. Teach your child to seek help from an adult when feeling threatened by a bully. Assure your child that that reporting bullying is not the same as tattling.
  4. Always maintain open lines of communication with your child, and make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment where he or she can take shelter physically and emotionally.

These are just a few things you can do to protect your children from bullying. Please visit Montlick.com or HelpKeepKidsSafe.org and click on “Family Safety and Legal Tips” to see our latest safety videos and downloadable materials, and to register for Free Safety Alerts.