It goes without saying that bullying is one of the most difficult things our kids can face. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and parents can use the time to discuss the issue with their kids. Here's how.
Identify bullying. Talk to your child about what bullying looks like -- it's not just the old "shove in a locker" trope. Bullying can occur in person or online and it's important to discuss what cyberbullying looks like. Things like ignoring a fellow student or making sure he or she knows about a "secret" group chat are all forms of bullying. Harassment, hate speech, inappropriate gestures or words, any form of threat, etc. are all forms of bullying that should not be tolerated.
How do you respond? What can your child do when he or she witnesses bullying? It's important to not engage the bully, but instead be there for the other student on the receiving end. Additionally, your child should know to tell an adult and report the behavior. Bullying is not to be tolerated, even if it feels "weird" to "tattle". Because bullying often escalates, it's important to take actions. Social media bullying can be reported to the platform and if your child feels uncomfortable telling an authority figure at school, let him or her know to come to you.
What are the effects? We've all read the horrific stories about bullying ending in suicide, which is, of course, a terrible outcome that is all too real. But there are more subtle effects of bullying as well. It hurts someone else's feelings and makes that person feel bad inside, so it's important to have empathy for other people. When your student is older, it's important to discuss how bullying can ruin lives and hurt entire families.
Bullying is never okay -- and giving a voice to those on the receiving end of cruelty is important!