What to do when your child is the victim
While the end of summer vacation has some children jumping for joy, others are hit with a temporary sense of gloom; back-to-school also spells the end of sunny days and outdoor activities! But for many children who are victims of bullying, returning to class is synonymous with physical and emotional violence, as well as constant anguish. Here are a few tips and practical information to help parents recognize the problem and find a solution.
Paint a picture of the situation
Bullying among children has been making headlines for a few years now. We’ve all heard about incidents that have taken a tragic turn. It may be a problem as old as the beginning of time, but under no circumstances should it be taken lightly. If your child says that he or she is the target of physical or psychological attacks on the part of other students, the situation may be critical. In fact, Health Canada reminds us that “youth usually go to adults with these problems only as a last resort.”
But even before a child reveals his or her concerns, you need to recognize the early signs of bullying. Some of these include: bruises that your child doesn’t want to explain; clothes, toys, or other possessions that are damaged when they arrive home; having very few friends, who themselves may be victims of bullying; begging you to let them stay home; depression and isolation; and even a noticeable decrease in appetite. If you recognize your child in any of the above scenarios, have a talk with them without delay. Ask them to describe the incidents in detail (words, acts, and people present) in order to assess the gravity of the situation. Encourage your child to denounce his attackers, but to not defend themselves with their fists, an act which could quickly lead the physical violence to escalate.
When at school, your child is the responsibility of many adults (namely teachers), but also playground monitors, coaches and, ultimately, the school principal. If you are aware of a bullying incident, communicate with your child’s school immediately and ask to speak with the people who were in charge during said incident. That way, you may obtain more information about the incident and, by the same token, learn the school’s course of action where bullying is concerned.
Subsequently, you may talk with the school’s administration about the resources that are available to you. You will perhaps be put in touch with a psycho-education specialist, or any other individual in charge of violence prevention at the school. The latter will guide you, and can directly intervene in case of complications.
A few preventative tips
Cultivating your child’s self-confidence could help prevent bullying. Focus on their strengths by signing them up for an extra-curricular activity of their choice, which will give them the opportunity to develop their talents. Your child will also have contact with youth other than the ones they frequent at school and, surely, will make new friends. A piece of advice: be there for your child at every stage of this difficult time, all the while avoiding overprotecting them and trying to solve all their problems on their behalf.
For more information on this topic, simply visit the Kids’ Health and Safety webpage on Health Canada’s website.
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