These are some tips you can use when approaching the topic of bullying with your child. Keep the details of the situation, and your own child’s emotions in mind. This is not a catch-all checklist, as every child and every instance of bullying is unique, but rather a guide to help you through the process with accuracy.
• Remain focused on your child.
• Use the basic questions to gather information: who, what, where, when, why and how. Were there any witnesses? Where did this take place?
• Don’t ignore bullying, and never tell your child to ignore it. This might only allow the bullying to become more serious.
• Avoid phrasing questions which place the blame on your child. “How did the other child become aggravated?” is much better than “What did you do to aggravate the other child?” Your child needs to be sure that you are on their side.
• Learn as much as you can about the circumstances of the bullying. What did the other child say or do?
• Never encourage physical violence. “Fight back!” is unlikely to do anything but escalate the problem, and may result in your own child’s suspension or expulsion.
• Show empathy and understanding. Let your child know that they are brave for telling you about it. Assure the child that you will not simply go storming into the school, which will only lead to further embarrassment.
• Do not contact the bully’s parents. The appropriate action is to contact the teacher or principal. You may feel a responsibility to contact the parents yourself, but this often makes matters worse. This is the responsibility of school officials.
• Write down the information your child gives you, for later discussion with the teacher or principal. Be thorough and precise. Don’t allow your emotions to taint your actions.
• Be proactive. Check up on your child and the progress of school officials. The school board is the logical next step if no progress is made.
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