Is Your Child Being Bullied? Here’s What You Can Do
Finding out that your child is being bullied is one of the worst news a parent can receive. Bullying poses threats to our children’s physical and mental health. Whether your child is being bullied or not, it’s always best to be prepared with an action plan to guide and protect them should the unthinkable happen.
The state of bullying in the Philippines is alarming. Take a look at the figures:
• According to the Department of Education, there were 6,363 cases of bullying in both private and public schools in 2014, compared to the 5,236 reported cases in 2013.
• Statistics show that one in two Filipino children have witnessed violence or abuse in their schools.
• A 2015 survey conducted by child-care nonprofit Stairway Foundation Inc. showed that with kids aged 7 to 12 years old, 3 out of 10 have experienced cyber bullying, while 4 out of 10 from the 13 to 16 age bracket have called themselves victims. Social media, online chats, and texting were the common culprits identified by the study.
Bullying is a serious concern that has negative effects on our children’s emotions. Depression, anxiety, and difficulties processing feelings are some of the unwanted emotional consequences that come with the territory.
If you find out that your child is being bullied, the urge to march to school and take matters in our own hands is normal. Should we tell the school? Confront the bully? Teach our child to fight back? One thing is for sure, parents can play an important part in bullying prevention. Read on about getting more involved.
The Anti-Bullying Act
Republic Act 10627, or the Anti-Bullying Act, aims to protect children in school from being bullied. Under this law, schools are mandated to address and report incidents of bullying to the Dep Ed. They are also required to adopt a comprehensive and multi-faceted prevention, counselling, and intervention program against bullying. The Anti-Bullying Act gives schools the authority to carry out sanctions and disciplinary measures according to the nature and gravity of the incident.
Even without any incidence of bullying, we can already inquire about the school’s anti-bullying program. Study it and ask questions. Find out who you need to talk to and what steps you need to take, should the need ever arise.
Lookout for signs
Keep communication lines open and pay attention to any changes in your kid’s behavior. Trust your instinct. If you think something’s up, find a relaxed time to talk to your child and get him or her to open-up. If your child doesn’t want to talk, you can take cues from stompoutbullying.org about warning signs to look out for:
• Your child comes home with damaged or missing pieces of clothing, books, and personal belongings.
• Your child has bruises and scratches.
• Thinks of excuses to stay home and be absent.
• Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, and physical ailments.
• Has begun to do poorly in school.
• Appears anxious.
• Displays low appetite and trouble sleeping.
What you can do
Stay calm and collect all the facts.
• Listen to the student’s, parent’s, or teacher’s report about the bullying.
• Get as much information as you can. What actions did the bully do? When and where did this take place? How long has this been going on?
• Difficult as it may seem, thank the source of information and let them know that you’re taking it very seriously. If it’s in school, set an appointment with the principal and his or her teachers to discuss the matter face to face.
• Breathe. Give yourself time to let your emotions pass. It’s only when you’ve calmed down that you can begin to talk to your child.
Talk to your child.
• Set the right environment to talk. You don’t want to burst into a room and ask, “Who’s been bullying you?!” Make sure you’re relaxed, your child is relaxed, you can even cook his or her favorite dish. And when guards are down, tell your child that you have something important to talk about. If you remain calm and collected, chances are you’ll get your child to talk more.
• Since you’ve got someone else’s side of the story, tell him or her that you need to know exactly what happened. Don’t focus on the other kid. While it’s important to hear about what the bully did, what you need to know is why your child thinks it happened, how they reacted to it, and how the situation made them feel. Determine if this has happened more than once.
• Assure your child that no matter what happened, you will be right there by his or her side. Bullying is not acceptable, and you will do all that you can to make it stop.
• If bullying is taking place outside school, you can calmly tell the other child that what he or she is doing is not good. Remove your child from the situation. But if it continues despite your warning, look for the other child’s parent with calm and caution. Mention the facts that you’ve collected.
• In a school setting, meet with the principal and teachers concerned. Present the facts you’ve collected. Find out how they can help your child, especially through the school’s anti-bullying policy.
• Be consistent and persistent in following-up with your child, his or her teachers, and the principal. Work with them in how the bullying can be prevented and processed.
Bullying is a big deal
Bullying is not in our control, but we can be proactive by talking to our children about bullying early on. We can model confident behavior, teach about respectful self-assertion, and share that there is no shame in walking away and asking for help. Our children also need to know that they should speak-up if they see someone being bullied. This is easier said than done. But by keeping the communication lines open, we can raise kids with the courage to stand up against bullying.