Mother talking to her son

If your child is being bullied, you can help

Adolescent Health, Teens

Around one in four kids in the U.S. are victims of bullying at their school. If your child is a victim of bullying, you know how detrimental it can be to their physical and mental health and their performance in school.

Here’s what you need to know about the issue and what you as a parent can do if you suspect that your child is being bullied:

Types of bullying

Bullying is a repeated, malicious behavior intended to undermine, demean, intimidate or harm another person.

There are three types of bullying: physical, emotional and relational.

  • Physical bullying involves using physical force or coercion (e.g., shoving, cutting hair, intentionally destroying property).
  • Emotional bullying involves verbal attacks (e.g., name-calling, insults).
  • Relational bullying is harder to spot, but it’s just as harmful. This includes actions such as spreading rumors and excluding the victim from activities as a way to isolate them.

Why is this a problem?

Bullying takes a toll on its victims. Victims of bullying might have:

  • Increased tardiness/truancy.
  • Increased psychological distress.
  • Difficulty successfully socializing with peers.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

How to address bullying

School personnel more easily identify physical and verbal bullying and address these forms more quickly than relational bullying. If your child is the victim of bullying, teach them to report bullying to school administration.

Give your child pointers on how to assertively communicate. It’s important that victims who report being bullied are comfortable with an adult who understands the situation and will support them.

If your child knows someone who is bullied, coach them to support the victim and to distract the bully and diffuse the situation by discussing a neutral subject.

If your child is the bully, do not engage in a debate about the facts of the bullying incident; instead, focus on increasing their empathy and other positive social behaviors.

Never ignore bullying. Ignoring the subject is counterproductive and sends the message that bullying is OK and just something you have to tolerate.

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