Guide to Protecting Your Child From Bullying and Violence at School
Bullying is an increasingly prevalent problem, with more than 750,000 reported acts of school violence each year. Bullying and school violence can occur on and off school property, and involve perpetrators, victims, and witnesses.
Five Forms of Bullying
- Physical bullying consists of the use physical aggression, such as pushing and punching. Many schools have a zero tolerance policy to physical bullying. Physical bullying can involve one or more perpetrators.
- Verbal bullying consists of the use of language to assail another student, such as teasing, mocking, or name-calling. Verbal bullying often occurs in view of witnesses.
- Reactive bullying consists of one student falsely presenting themselves as a victim when they themselves are the bully. Reactive bullies persistently taunt, tease, push, or strike their victims until the victim strikes out.
- Cyberbullying consists of the use of social media to willfully, viciously and maliciously harass a student, whether by posting unflattering and compromising photographs, making derogatory, demeaning, or hurtful remarks, or to otherwise abuse, belittle, or harass another student.
- Vandalism and theft are forms of bullying that consist of damaging or stealing a student's property, such as their clothing, money, or electronic devices. Feelings of powerlessness, despair, anger, or fear related to social status and school experiences can lead students to vandalize school property.
Twelve Ways You Can Prevent Bullying
- Understand the nature and extent of the bullying. Bullyling is prevalent among students, with nearly one in five students reporting that they have been bullied on school property, and one in nine students reporting that they have been cyberbullied in the previous year.
- Understand the risk factors that contribute to bullying, such as a dysfunctional or abusive home life, behavioral difficulties, mental health issues, and socially disorganized communities.
- Establish an open dialogue with your child. Simply listening to what children have to say can be quite revealing. It's better to have an acute ear to see what is really going on in a child's life than to lecture the child. Engaging a child in a discussion about school, friends, and after school activities can be a constructive way to find out what your child is involved in, and with whom.
- Set boundaries with consequences for your child's actions. Waiting until children have committed acts of violence may be too late. Children benefit from discipline and boundaries that keep them safe and teach them about acceptable behaviors. Your child should know that stepping outside those boundaries is not only inappropriate, but results in consequences.
- Set an example for your child. From an early age, children are influenced by their parents. Whether consciously or subconsciously, children begin to mimic their parents, including how their parents handle stress and display prejudice. When children observe physical or psychological abuse at home, they may use similar techniques to solve problems at school.
- Be aware of warning signs. Parents should be aware of behavioral changes in their children. The following is a list of symptoms that may appear:
- Sudden or persistent darkness, sadness, or withdrawal from family and friends
- Physical signs of injury
- Missing or damaged personal property
- Torn or disheveled clothing
- Complaints of illness when there are no visible symptoms
- Skipping one or more classes
- Not wanting to ride the school bus
- Running away from home for short periods of time
- Carrying a weapon, whether a nail file, a screwdriver, or a knife
- References to suicide, or statements about not wanting to be around anymore
- Angry threats about getting even with another student
- Be proactive in your child's schooling. Know which classes a child is taking, the names of teachers and school counselors, assignments due, and grades achieved. Being in touch with your child's school can help you spot problematic behavior and deal with it promptly.
- Teach your child to recognize and avoid violence. Teach your child to be aware of precipitating factors which may lead to violence. Help him or her become aware of possible perpetrators and teach your child to avoid them at all costs, even if that means not being part of a clique at school.
- Identify a safe haven at school. Be aware of the physical layout of your child's school. Go on a Saturday or Sunday when school is out and locate the safest place your child can go in the event he or she senses violence. This could be a classroom, the nurse's office, the principal's office, or the hall outside it. Explain to your child that they are not running away, but instead are preventing themselves from becoming involved in a fight which may lead to their own discipline.
- Teach the difference between tattling and whistle blowing. No one likes a bully. Your child should know that reporting a bully to a teacher or school staff member is not weak or cowardly, but a commendable act that helps all students.
- Help your child develop a buddy system. It's important for your child to be among friends at school. The more the better. There is safety in numbers. It is less likely a bully will attack your child when he or she is among friends.
- Know who your child's friends are. If your child doesn't seem to have many, speak with the parents of other children who may have things in common with your child. This is especially helpful if your child is shy.
- Enroll your child in a self-defense class. Self-defense classes teach your child how to defend themselves and instill self-confidence and self-esteem.
- ↑ National Center for Education Statistics
- ↑ The Seattle Times "Violence at schools often goes unreported" by Emily Hefter
- ↑ Center for Disease Control (CDC) "Injury Prevention and Control: Division of Violence Prevention"
- ↑ BullyingStatistics.org
- ↑ Teen Bully Info "Verbal Bullying"
- ↑ Teen Bully Info "Reactive Bullying"
- ↑ Teen Bully Info "Cyberbullying"
- ↑ Journal of Bullying and Social Aggression "The Socio-Emotional and Financial Costs of Bullying"
- ↑ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) School Violence: Data & Statistics
- ↑ Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "Fact Sheet"
- ↑ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Understanding School Violence
- ↑ Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Youth Violence: Risk and Protective Factors
- ↑ Center for Disease Control and Prevention: "Understanding School Violence Fact Sheet"