There are things a parent should never do upon finding out that their child is the victim of a bully at school.
Every so often, a parent of a bullied child makes news by confronting the suspected bully or bullies.
This has happened on school buses especially. Sometimes the parent ends up at the police station. Is this really the way to go?
Do’s and Don’t’s when Parents Learn Their Child Is Being Bullied
“It’s important for parents to stay calm if they learn their child is being bullied and also if they learn their child is suspected of bullying others,” says Deborah A. Temkin, PhD, Manager, Project SEATBELT, Bullying Prevention Initiative, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Stay calm and embrace thought processes and actions based on rationale and logic, rather than on emotion.
Dr. Temkin points out that a parent has a tendency to immediately jump to the child’s protection.
Though this may seem like the logical thing to do, and it may even produce a prompt, quick-fix solution, it will probably ultimately backfire.
This is because it fails to empower the child and prevent or minimize future bullying, especially with new kids they meet along the way.
Yes, you got rid of one bully (or a group), but what about the next crop of kids coming up on a different bus route, a new class, the transition from junior high to high school?
The first thing to do, says Dr. Temkin, is to listen to your son or daughter. Don’t be judgmental or make them think you blame them for the bullying.
“Have them write out their experience in their own words, and ask what they think a solution might be,” says Dr. Temkin.
Do not invalidate their reports of bullying. Imagine that someone at work is harassing you, and you report this to human resources, and the HR department doesn’t take your complaint seriously. Imagine that.
“Develop a plan with children so that they can feel like they have some efficacy and control over the actions that will be taken.”
Dr. Temkin also says to always have a mediator. This can be someone at the school or any trusted individual.
The mediator should be present when the parent of the bullied child interfaces with the bully’s parent/s.
“When parents confront other parents, the situation will rarely be peacefully resolved,” says Dr. Temkin.
Never make your child feel ashamed of being bullied. Do not yell, scold or criticize.
Again, take your own workplace as an example. Imagine that the HR director, or upper management, is just sitting there scowling at you and berating you as you describe how a coworker (or several) keep harassing you on a daily basis.
If your child reports bullying, perhaps the biggest step you can take to reach a solution is to just listen, and without judgment.