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Topics of Concern for Parents

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Bullying--Information and Resources

Bullying and harassment are issues taken very seriously by Edinburgh Middle School.  Students who are involved in the bullying or harassment of others will face a variety of consequences, including but not limited to:  detention, in-school suspension, out-of school suspension, the Johnson County Alternative to Suspension Program, or expulsion.  If your child is being bullied or harassed, please contact your child’s teacher, Mr. Sevier or Mr. Schoettmer

Warning Signs of Bullying

The following may be signs that your child is being bullied:

  • Avoiding certain situations, people, or places, such as pretending to be sick so that he or she does not have to go to school
  • Changes in behavior, such as being withdrawn and passive, being overly active and aggressive, or being self-destructive
  • Frequent crying or feeling sad
  • Signs of low self-esteem
  • Being unwilling to speak or showing signs of fear when asked about certain situations, people, or places
  • Signs of injuries
  • Suddenly receiving lower grades or showing signs of learning problems
  • Recurrent unexplained physical symptoms such as stomach pains and fatigue

Parent Response to Bullying

If Your Child Is Being Bullied

First, listen to your child. Just talking about the problem and knowing that you care can be helpful and comforting. Make sure that your child knows that you do not blame or feel disappointed in him or her. Ask your child what he or she thinks should be done. What has your child tried? What worked and what didn’t?

Encourage your child not to retaliate against the bully or to let the bully see how much he or she has upset your child. Getting a response just reinforces the bullying behavior. Tell your child that if at all possible, he or she should stay calm and respond evenly or firmly (e.g., "I don't like your teasing and I want you to stop right now" or "Stop doing that now. If you keep on, I'm going to report you to the principal."). Some children find it works to just say nothing and walk away. At other times, it can be more effective to make a joke, laugh at oneself, or to use humor to defuse the situation. Brainstorm with your child to develop some effective responses. Then role-play different approaches and responses with your child so that he or she will be prepared the next time.

Encourage your child to go immediately to a teacher, counselor, principal, or other nearby adult if he or she feels seriously threatened.

You may also want to help your child to develop strategies to avoid situations where bullying can happen and to avoid being alone with bullies. If bullying occurs on the way to or from school, your child may want to take a different route, leave at a different time, or find others to walk to and from school with. If bullying occurs at school, your child may want to avoid areas that are isolated or unsupervised by adults, and stick with friends as much as possible.

Encourage your child to form strong friendships. A child or teen who has loyal friends is less likely to be singled out by a bully, and they can be valuable allies if your child is targeted. If your child lacks friends, help him or her to develop more friendships. Encourage your child to participate in positive social groups that meet his or her interests, such as after-school groups, church groups, extra-curricular activities, or teams. In addition to helping your child make friends, these activities can help to develop your child’s special skills and rebuild his or her self-confidence.

In many cases, bullying won’t require your involvement. If the bullying is persistent and is harming your child’s emotional health, you need to intervene by talking to your child’s teacher, school counselor, or principal about the problem in order to make sure your child is safe, that effective consequences are applied toward the bully, and that monitoring at school is adequate. Advocate for the involvement of the bully’s parents.

If Your Child Is Bullying Others

If you learn that your child is bullying others, sit down and talk with your child immediately. It is important to take the problem seriously, because children and youth who bully others are at a greater risk for serious problems later in life. Give your child an opportunity to explain his/her behavior, but do not accept any excuses or justifications. Make it clear that bullying will not be tolerated and outline the consequences for further unacceptable behavior. If the problem is occurring at school, tell your child you support the school’s right to punish him/her if the behavior persists.

Encourage your child to try to understand how the bullying feels to his/her victim. Bullies often have trouble empathizing with their victims so it is important to discuss with your child how bullying feels. How would your child feel if it happened to him/her? If you or someone close to you has been bullied in the past, you might want to share the story with your child, discussing the emotional impact.

Increase your supervision of your child’s activities and whereabouts, and know who your child is spending time with. Make an effort to observe your child in one-on-one interactions. Stop any show of aggression immediately and help your child find other, nonviolent ways of reacting to certain situations. Praise your child for appropriate behaviors.

If the bullying continues, you need to seek help for your child. Without intervention, bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional and legal difficulties. Talk to your child's pediatrician, teacher, principal, school counselor, or your family physician. If the bullying continues, a comprehensive evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional should be arranged. The evaluation can help you and your child understand what is causing the bullying and help you develop a plan to stop the destructive behavior.

Adapted from the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center.

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