Talking to Tweens About Bullying? It’s been all over the news this year in middle schools and Junior high schools. Parent groups are forming, community wide anti-bullying task forces, and more. Anti-bullying ordinances are being voted on by local governments and school handbooks have been rewritten. Bullying is a very common problem that affects the youth of all age groups and it can harm any student. Bullying is so dangerous that it affects the social and emotional well-being of a student and even the overall physical health gets affected. There is also a rise in the evidence that proves that bullying is somehow linked to sexual harassment and dating violence.
Talking to Tweens about Bullying
I know it is nothing new – bullying has been around for a long time but here is the thing? When we were kids? There was no social media. The school yard bully was out of the picture the 16 hours a day that we were at home with our family and friends. Now? Kids deal with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week thanks to technology. In common parlance, bullying is just another form of abuse; it is all about certain kids using power to control other kids and sometimes with a grievous intention to cause harm to the other person. Being bullied is humiliating and hurtful and it is not a joke. On top of that social networking sites and cellphones are a new menace as they allow kids to be bullied 24 hours a day and this humiliation often has a long-lasting effect.
Know the signs to understand whether your tween is being bullied
The majority of the kids are not going to come home and tell their parents that they are being bullied. They will never say anything. The kid might feel ashamed and feel that they are to be blamed for what has happened. This is a dangerous feeling bit is very common among kids. So the onus lies on the parents to understand whether their tween is being bullied or not.
Reluctance to go to school
The child may not get on the school bus
The mood of the kid changes as soon as he logs onto Facebook or any other social networking site
Has sleeping problems, headaches and always expresses a wish to stay at home instead of going to school
The tween may have damaged belongings or worse, some of his belongings may get lost
The tween is not eating his/her lunch and is getting into a habit of bringing the food back home
The kid is, at times, depressed and seems withdrawn
The thing is that even if the child displays one or two of these above signs it may not mean that the child is being bullied but these are important things that would need immediate attention and support from parents.
What should the parents do?
What should a parent do if his tween son/daughter is being bullied? Whether he says outright that he is being bullied or you suspect it, one must listen to the child very carefully and empathize with him/her. One must support him throughout and assure him that what has happened is simply wrong and he must be told that, as a parent, you have a responsibility to put a stop to any such behavior and that you will arrange for all kind of help possible.
When you find out that your child is being bullied then it is natural to feel anxious and angry. The first reaction would not be an ideal as it will come from an emotional perspective and not from a calm and an objective place. Here’s how parents should talk to tween if he/she is being bullied –
Talking to Tweens About Bullying
Have an open conversation
You can tell your tween kid about your own experiences. You should empathize with him/her at all times and make him understand that you are always available for him at all times. You can also ask him to speak to other elders in the family as they might have some better things to say.
Do not blame
If your child is being bullied then one should not make the cardinal mistake of blaming her for what is happening. Most of the times there is no reason for a child to get bullied except for the fact that he is in the line of sight of another child who simply wants to bully him. There is no justification for bullying. Blaming your kid for these problems will only propel him to shut down and even blame themselves for what has happened. Instead, the child should be told that anyone can be a target for such behavior but the offender will be punished for what he/she has done.
Talk to an adult
You must speak with your tween child and encourage him to go to his school counselor or an administrator whenever she is being bullied or feels threatened. The school officials must put an end to all these and hold the offending students accountable for such lowly behavior.
You should never minimize the problem by under-reacting. Your interference in this matter is not required until and unless the school authorities do not take required action against the offenders. If you find the school to be too lenient then you can always walk in with your child and demand a thorough investigation of the matter as the parent has to look after the well-being of the child. The kids should always understand that her parents are more powerful than the bullying student and she will always get support and protection from her parents no matter what.
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