The Children's Law Team
Learning that your child is the victim of bullying can be devastating. Children can be unusually and unnecessarily cruel, and you might feel helpless if you find out that your child is a victim of emotional or physical abuse.
You might be especially frustrated if you find out that bullying is occuring at school and the school has not taken appropriate actions to stop it. On this page, I will discuss how you can talk to your child about bullying, how to identify bullying or cyberbullying, and what to do if your child is a victim of this issue.
Understanding Bullying and Cyberbullying
There are many different forms of bullying and the recently popular cyberbullying. Your child could face issues that range from teasing to physical abuse. A few common forms of bullying include:
- Verbal bullying, which includes name-calling, teasing, derogatory comments.
- Relational bullying, which generally refers to the exclusion of a person to a particular club or group.
- Physical bullying, which includes physical actions taken against your child.
- Cyberbullying, which refers to any verbal bullying or threats conveyed over a technological device, including a phone, computer, tablet, etc.
If your child is being bullied, they might be ashamed of this and hesitant to come to you or anyone else with their issue. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you keep the line of communication regarding bullying open with your child. A few talks about bullying with your child can help them feel more at ease coming to you with a potential bullying issue. When talking to your child, consider the following:
- Avoid one big discussion about bullying with your child. This can be overwhelming. Instead, have a few smaller conversations about bullying.
- If possible, have these conversations before any bullying signs have appeared with your child.
- Go over the types of bullying with your child. Sometimes children don’t realize that what they are experiencing is bullying, especially if they do not experience physical bullying.
- Make sure that your child knows that if they are being bullied, it is not their fault.
- Teach them to confide in a teacher and you.
- Answer any questions that they have about bullying.
Recognizing Bullying Signs
If your child is being bullied in school, they might start to act differently. Even if your child doesn’t come to you and tell you that they are being bullied, watch out for these signs that something might be wrong:
- Injuries that your child can’t explain.
- Lost possessions, such as school books, jewelry, clothing, and other valuables.
- Faking an illness to get out of going to school.
- Stress induced issues, such as headaches, nausea, inability to sleep, nightmares, loss of appetite or binge eating, moodiness, etc.
- Withdrawal from activities that they previously enjoyed or people that they used to hang out.
- Self-destructive behavior or lashing out at others.
- Loss of interest in school work or declining grades.
If you notice any odd behavior or one of these warning signs, you should talk to your child about any issues that they are having in school. Be gentle with your child and make sure that they know that they are not in trouble. Also let them know that they will not get in trouble for telling you the truth.
If your child confirms that they have been bullied by another student, it is time to contact the school.
Once you learn that your child has been bullied, you should contact the school. It is possible that previous reports of bullying have been made. Once the school becomes aware of bullying, they should take action. The bully might face detention or a suspension. If they physically assault your child, the police might get involved in the situation.
Bullying that takes place on school property or with school property (such as cyberbullying over school computers) is the responsibility of the school to sort out. The school should take action against the bully.
If the school fails to take action, you may have to get a lawyer involved. Oftentimes the possibility of a lawsuit will force the school to take action. If you show the school that you are serious and won’t let it go, they will likely be more willing to work to resolve the situation.
It also might be possible for you to sue the bully or press criminal charges against them. You can discuss these options with a member of my team by contacting us at 203-925-9200.