If your teen is being bullied at school, it’s important to realize that she is not alone. Something also must be done to prevent the incidents from escalating. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 32 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 report that they were bullied at school in 2007; an additional 4 percent reported being cyber bullied. While this behavior tends to decrease steadily as the teens age, it is imperative that the problems be confronted to avoid the risk of the bad behavior escalating.
Discuss the problem with your high school student in an informal family setting. Ask her to describe each incident; try not to interrupt while she is explaining. Determine if any threats were made. If so, determine whether the threats were specific or vague and whether the threats occurred during or after school and on or off school property.
Encourage your teen to confide in another adult, such as a counselor, school nurse or school security officer. Teenagers often feel as though their parents are the only adults that care. When they talk openly about the problem to a person in authority, they will find that bullying affects many students and is a subject that is taken seriously. Make an appointment with a counselor if your teen appears upset or depressed about the problem.
Persuade your teen to report each incident to a teacher or other school authority. While teens may shudder at the thought of “squealing” on a fellow student, bullying often leads to physical danger both by the bully and by the victim. Keeping silent may give the bully encouragement to escalate the behavior, while a bullied teen can build internal rage at the feelings of helplessness.
Call the school and speak to the principal or other person in authority. Request the details of the reported incident, and inform them that you require a copy of each and every reported incident. Because bullying frequently escalates, it is important you have a paper trail of the problem.
File a report with your local police department if there is violence or threats. Make sure to give the responding officer copies of school reports that have been made.
Locate state specific laws on bullying and find the exact definition of bullying in your area and the legal process available.
Teach your teen specific ways of dealing with future bullying events, such as ignoring the bully, sticking with a group of close friends, avoiding angry or physical reactions, and practicing confident replies to future confrontations.
- Never confront a bully or his parents, as this can be considered harassment and can escalate the situation. Always have a school or police representative handle the interaction.