Suspect your child is being bullied? Here’s what to do.
1. Don’t ignore the problem.
Talk with your child about your suspicions. (You should already be talking with your child regularly.) Make sure you get the whole picture. Ask your child if he or she has been bullying other children. Your child could be getting bullied out of retaliation.
2. Don’t encourage your child to fight back.
Becoming a bully doesn’t end bullying. Jesus Christ taught those who live violently will die violently (Matthew 26:52).
3. Do teach your child to stand up for himself or herself and others being bullied.
Although God expects all humanity to be humble peacemakers (Matthew 5:5, 9), He does not want us to be weak sissies. Personal confidence disarms bullying. The film Bully shows that in most cases the young people willing to stand up for themselves and others are no longer bullied. Bullies continue to menace others only when they remain successful at instilling fear that undermines personal confidence.
Do you know how to build confidence in your child? Strong personal confidence comes by contact with you. Your child needs to know that he or she has your full support.
It is critical that you teach your child to stand up for others who are bullied. This does not mean that your child should step into the middle of a fistfight. However, you should emphasize the importance of brave leadership—the ability to be courageous enough not to go along with a crowd that lives to bully (Proverbs 1:10-15). Also, instruct him or her to know when to seek help from school authorities.
4. Teach your child to resist threats and intimidation.
Be sure your child does not run from a bully. Your child’s best weapon is to remain emotionally calm and stand his or her ground. Bullies can only maintain power over your child when he or she exhibits fear, frustration or emotional upset over the experience. Running away only encourages and empowers the bully.
Some bullies will threaten harm if their requests are not met. “Give me your lunch or I’ll beat you up,” is a common tactic, for example. Your child should not give up his or her lunch. If he or she does, the bully is sure to do it again.
5. When a bully continues to harass your child, you must step in and do something.
Start with the bully’s parents. Don’t wait. Take the first step and set up a meeting. Calmly discuss what is happening between your children. Be sure to remain open-minded that your child may be contributing to the problem. Most parents will be thankful you came to them directly and will work to resolve the problem.
Sadly, some will not. If you cannot resolve the problem at the parental level, and the bullying persists, then get help from either law enforcement or school authorities. If your child is being bullied off school grounds, then legal and law enforcement should be contacted. If the bullying incidents take place on school grounds, take up the matter with school officials or authorities. If school authorities do not help you solve the problem, your best alternative may be to change schools. Some school districts are better at handling bullying problems than others. Some families have actually had the best success at solving a bullying problem by changing schools.