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Many parents will at one time or another need to deal with schoolyard bullying. Methods for dealing with bullying often vary. One of the most important things a parent can do is make sure that all relevant school officials are aware of the problem. Being vocal can make a huge difference in how the teachers, counselors, and principals handle the situation. It is probably best that parents talk to school officials in person, as it better illustrates that the parent intends to see the situation resolved.
Schoolyard bullying takes place outside the home environment, so options for parents are somewhat limited. Parents should make sure their child feels comfortable talking with them about the situation. Some children believe they are somehow at fault if they are bullied, so parents should be sure to place the blame where it belongs — on the bully. In addition, parents should make sure their child knows that they consider schoolyard bullying to be a serious matter, and that they are going to help.
Some child psychologists believe it is important that children understand that their situation is not unique, although that does not mean the bullying should be trivialized. Making sure that kids know that bullying is a common problem sometimes makes them feel less alone and victimized. If possible, parents can draw on their own experiences with bullies and talk to their child about how it made them feel and how they got through the experience.
Sometimes one of the best things a parent can do to help their children deal with schoolyard bullying is to step aside, if only for a bit. Depending on the age of the child involved, an older sibling or family friend may be brought in to help. Sometimes children feel more comfortable talking with someone other than their parents, especially if that person is someone they admire.
In certain situations, it may be a good idea to have a talk with the parents of the child who is doing the bullying. Most experts advocate letting school officials take that responsibility, but if parents feel the school is not getting results, they may need to do it themselves. If it is possible to arrange a meeting with the parents of the bully, it is probably a good idea to meet in neutral territory, such as the school or a local church.
Most states do have bullying laws in place, so if all else fails, prosecution may be an option. Schools and school officials may also be culpable, as they are responsible for the safety and well-being of children while they are at school. Before speaking to school administrators, it is probably a good idea for parents to acquaint themselves with information regarding bullying laws in their state.
@Phaedrus, I remember my parents told me if a bully ever threatened to hurt me physically, I should fight back with everything I had. The bully was supposed to get the hint that I wasn't a pushover, so he'd find another victim who was weaker.
I was never a fighter, but I felt like I needed to take my parent's advice seriously. My bully showed up one day and told me this was my day to die. I started flailing my arms and kicking my legs, but nothing had any effect on him. He beat me for a long time before a playground monitor broke it up. His attitude did not change one bit after the confrontation. In fact, it became even worse. What finally ended it was a serious meeting between my parents, his parents and the school principal.
I think there is still a lot of bad advice and misinformation floating around about schoolyard bullying. Some parents still cling to the idea that if their child simply ignores a bully, he or she will eventually go away. Modern bullies are much savvier than that. If a victim chooses to ignore him or her at the playground or after class, then there are still options such as harassing emails and cyberbullying on social media. Making an effort to ignore a bully may only lead to an escalation of the problem. Parents should stop giving their child timeworn advice that wasn't even true back in their day.
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