Learning to deal with different personalities and peer pressures is a natural, even healthy part of growing up as it teaches children how to handle what life throws at them. However, dealing with a school bully goes beyond a child’s normal social challenges and can have adverse emotional and physical side effects. Children who are bullied may have poor grades and suffer from mood swings and depression. Bullying can take on many forms from subtle verbal abuse to outright physical abuse.
Believe your child if he tells you he is being harassed or bullied at school. Support him and reassure him that you believe him and will help him. Do not belittle his feelings or make him feel he is overreacting.
Schedule a meeting with the school principal immediately. At the meeting, bring copies of the school’s behavioral and bullying policies. Inform the principal that you expend the school policies to be enforced, and you will be following up on actions taken to stop the bullying. By taking a firm stance, you will be protecting your child and other children who may be victims of the same bully and teaching your child how to be an advocate and stand up for himself.
Work with the school administrators and student leaders to start an anti-bullying campaign and education program in the school. The school may have resources to get such programs started. The International Bullying Prevention Association also has anti-bullying program resources listed on its website.
Teach your child not to engage the bully. The Bullying website recommends that children ignore and walk away from bullies, stay with their friends or teachers, and continue to talk about what is happening at school.
Call the police if the bullying is severe (your child has physical bruises) or has not stopped after talking with school administrators. Focus Adolescent Services, based in Salisbury, Md., recommends getting a restraining order and taking further legal action, if necessary.