DoDEA's Bullying Awareness and Prevention Program: For Parents


As a parent, you want to protect your children and you want to teach them how to stick up for themselves and for what is right. Help your child learn how to prevent bullying by talking to them about the issue and encouraging them to speak up.

Explain to your children what bullying is, and that it is NEVER acceptable. Express your concern and make it clear you will listen and you want to help.

Teach your child what to do when they see or are a victim of bullying. Talk to them about which adults they can turn to and what to say when asking for help.


Tips for Parents


Children Who Bully
 
How to Talk with Educators at Your Child's School About Bullying: Tips for Parents of Bullied Children
 
Warning Signs that a Child is Being Bullied
 
What We Know About Bullying

Common myths about children who bully

"Children who bully are loners."
  • In fact, research indicates that children and youth who bully are not socially isolated.
  • They report having an easier time making friends than children and youth who do not bully.
  • Children and youth who bully usually have at least a small group of friends who support or encourage their bullying.
"Children who bully have low self-esteem."
  • In fact, most research indicates that children and youth who bully have average or above-average self-esteem.
  • Children and youth often need help to stop bullying. Don't be afraid to call the school if you think your child is being bullied and ask for help to stop the bullying. Students should not have to tolerate bullying at school any more than adults would tolerate similar treatment at work.
  • If your child is being bullied, chances are that there are other children in the school who are having similar experiences.

Everyone has a role to play in stopping bullying. Take a stand and lend a hand to stop bullying.

What can you do if your child is being bullied?

If your child is being bullied, talk to your child's teacher instead of confronting the bully's parents. DoDEA is establishing all schools as No Bullying Zones. If no action is taken, talk to the principal.

Teach your child nonviolent ways to deal with bullies, like walking away or talking it out. Role-play bullying scenarios with your child. Help your child act with self-confidence.

Practice walking upright, looking people in the eye, and speaking clearly.

Don't encourage your child to fight. He or she could get hurt, get in trouble or start more serious problems with the bully.

Involve your children in activities outside of school so they know they can make friends in a different social circle.

Know what is going on at your child's school. Learn about its bullying prevention program, join the PTA and get involved. Be persistent. Bullying isn't solved overnight.

If your child is being bullied, chances are that there are other children in the school who are having similar experiences.

What is the school's responsibility when bullying has occurred?

If your child tells you that he or she has been bullied or if you suspect your child is being bullied, what should the school do?

All children are entitled to courteous and respectful treatment by other students and the staff at school. As educators, we have a duty to provide a safe learning environment and most educators take their responsibilities to stop bullying very seriously.

Some steps you can take when working with the school to stop bullying:
  • Keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you. Record the names of the children involved, where and when the bullying occurred, and what happened.
  • Immediately ask to meet with your child's classroom teacher and explain your concerns in a friendly, non-confrontational way.
  • Ask the teacher about his or her observations:
    • Has he or she noticed or suspected bullying?
    • How is your child getting along with others in class?
    • Has he or she noticed that your child is being isolated, excluded from playground or other activities with students?
  • Ask the teacher what he or she intends to do to investigate and help to stop the bullying.
  • If you are concerned about how your child is coping with the stress of being bullied, ask to speak with your child's guidance counselor or other school-based mental health professional.
  • Set up a follow-up appointment with the teacher to discuss progress.
  • If there is no improvement after reporting bullying to your child's teacher, speak with the school principal.
  • Keep notes from your meetings with teachers and administrators.

School staff should never have a joint meeting with your child and the child who bullied them. This could be very embarrassing and intimidating for your child. They should not refer the children to mediation. Bullying is a form of victimization, not a conflict. It should not be mediated.

Staff should meet with your child to learn about the bullying that he or she has experienced. They should develop a plan to help keep your child safe, and they should be watchful for any future bullying. Educators should assure your child that they will work hard to see that the bullying stops.

School personnel should meet with the children who are suspected of taking part in the bullying. They should make it clear to these children that bullying is against school rules and will not be tolerated. If appropriate, they should administer consequences (such as a loss of recess privileges) to the children who bullied and notify their parents.

  • Educators and parents should be careful not to "blame the victim." Bullying is never the "fault" of the child who is bullied, and he or she shouldn't be made to feel responsible for being bullied. However, if your child is impulsive or lacks social skills, talk with a school counselor. It is possible that some students who are bullying your child are reacting out of annoyance. This doesn't make the bullying right, but it may help to explain why your child is being bullied.
  • Give the school reasonable time to investigate and hear both sides of the story. Sometimes, a child who bullies will make false allegations about a child as an additional way of bullying them. Educators should not jump to hasty conclusions and assign blame without a thorough assessment of the situation. This entire process should not take longer than a week.
  • If bullying continues, write to the school's principal or administrator and include evidence from your notes to back up your complaint. Putting a complaint in writing is important so there is a record of your concern.
  • Most administrators and staff are responsive to bullying concerns. However, if your school administrator is unable or unwilling to stop the bullying, write to your school superintendent for assistance.

Be persistent. You may need to keep speaking out about the bullying that your child experiences.

What should you do if you suspect your child is bullying?

No parent wants to believe their child is bullying but if you suspect it, either because it has been brought to your attention or just because you have a concern that it might be happening you have a responsibility to take action.

Working closely with the school to resolve the situation is important.

It may be that your child was bullied and is now repeating the behavior.

Some indicators that your child may be bullying others are:
  • Becomes violent with others
  • Gets into physical or verbal fights with others
  • Gets sent to the principal's office or detention a lot
  • Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
  • Is quick to blame others
  • Will not accept responsibility for their actions
  • Has friends who bully others
  • Needs to win or be best at everything
What you can do:
  • Talk with your child. Ask for their account of the situation. Be objective and listen carefully. Calmly explain what your child is accused of and ask for an explanation of the incident and their role.
  • Make it clear to your child that you take bullying seriously. Calmly let them know that you will not tolerate this behavior. Help your child learn that bullying hurts everyone involved.
  • Develop clear and consistent rules for your child's behavior. Praise your child when they follow the rules. Decide on fair consequences and follow through if your child breaks the rules.
  • Spend more time with your child. Carefully supervise and monitor their activities, including when they are online or texting.
  • Be aware of who your child's friends are. Find out how they spend their free time.
  • Build on your child's talents and positive attributes. Encourage him or her to get involved in social activities.
  • Work with your child's school to ensure the bullying does not happen again. Ask the school to keep you informed. Develop strategies together to address bullying. Work together to send clear messages to your child that the bullying must stop.
  • Talk with a school counselor or health professional. They may be able to provide your child with additional help.

Parents need to remember that children who bully are at high risk for engaging in risky or even criminal behaviors, and it is very important in a bullying situation for the parents to act immediately.

Why do some parents ignore bullying?

Some parents:
  • Aren't sure how to help their child and may be afraid that they will make the situation worse if they report bullying.
  • May be embarrassed that their child is being bullied.
  • May be asked by their children not to report bullying.
  • May be worried about seeming overprotective or interfering.
  • May believe it is up to their child to stop the bullying.