Nearly 25% of American teens are bullied on any given day, according to the United States Department of Justice. Bullying can take the form of verbal assaults, physical harm, or written online text messages or Facebook posts, and it can have a devastating impact on your teen’s sense of self-worth, grades, and social life. Use these tips to help guide your response when you know your teen is being bullied.
Advocate for Your Child
First, thank them for coming to you with their problem. From the get-go, you should make it abundantly clear that you’re on their side and you want to work with them and for them to change the situation.
Some other points to hit in the initial conversation:
- Praise their courage for coming to you
- Make sure they know they deserve better treatment from their peers
- Reassure them that it is not their fault
Work with your teen to record bullying incidents as they happen, whether in person, over the phone, or via the internet. Enlist your teen’s help; empower them by approaching the process as if you were “building a case” against the bully. This way, when you involve the culprit’s parents, or the school, you will have the evidence you need to affect change.
- Printing out aggressive Facebook messages, texts, or tweets
- Saving voicemail messages from the bully
- Talking with your child after each school day to record specific incidents that took place
- Limit the bully’s access to your child. This may not be possible while your teen is in school, but limiting texting or online time while at home can give your teen a break from the situation
First, try helping your child solve the problem herself. Use your notes to study the situation from all angles, with your teen, and decide on a course of action. How has your teen been dealing with the situation himself? How can you limit your teen’s exposure to the bully, and equip him with good one-liners that shut verbal attacks down without stooping to the bully’s level?
- Roleplaying a bullying situation where your teen responds with confidence.
- Coach your teen on using a strong, in-control tone of voice
- If possible, help your teen find the humor in the situation. Sometimes bullying can be so ludicrous, a simple, “Are you seriously picking on me because of my ___? Don’t you have better things to do with your time?” will be enough.
Get Others Involved
First, try talking to your teen’s friends and their parents. Make clear the seriousness of the situation, and ask them to help your teen stand up to the bully. Next, talk to the bully’s parents. Are they aware of the situation? Bring your notes. Hopefully, once they realize what their child has been doing, they will intervene.
As a last resort, you may want to look at the option of sending your child to another school where bullying is not tolerated in the least degree. Finding the right school may be challenging; however, it is your child’s well being that is at stake and certainly well worth the consideration and even the effort if it is warranted. Therapeutic Boarding Schools specialize in creating customized academic and therapeutic programs for teens that do not succeed in traditional school settings.