When parents hear this word, it evokes strong feelings. No one wants to hear their child is a victim of bullying and no one wants their child to be a bully.
More than 25 percent of students report they have been bullied during their school years, and at least 10 percent are bullied on a regular basis. Boys tend to be more physical in their bullying while girls tend to be more verbally abusive.
Cyberbullying on social media, group chats and texting is also growing significantly.
Teachers tend to underestimate how frequently bullying occurs because they are often unaware that it is happening. And many children do not tell their parents about being bullied, unless they are asked directly. Children who are bullied often have issues with their social and emotional development, as well as with their school performance.
We encourage parents to have an open and honest discussion with their child or children. Letting children know that they are going to be supported no matter what they say is important, as well as reassuring them it is not their fault they’re being bullied.
Teach your child how to seek help when a bully is bothering them and how to walk away from a bully. Practice what to say so they will be prepared. Work with them on how to be assertive, encouraging them to stay with friends, if possible. Lastly, get teachers and the school involved as early as possible.
If bullying continues without a parent’s awareness, kids can become depressed and withdrawn. They may refuse to go to school and their grades may suffer.
This is when parents should seek professional help to help develop a strategy to deal with bullying. There are many online resources that parents can access including stopbullying.gov, which provides information about identifying, preventing and managing bullying and cyberbullying.
Dr. Nicole Mavrides is a child psychiatrist at the University of Miami Health System Department of Psychiatry.