photo courtesy of Flickr user Eddie~S

From pushes on the playground to mean instant messaging, bullying is an issue that almost all children face at some time or another.  With a recent surge in media attention and a new focus on cyber-bullying, parents may wonder where and how to find the best information and ways of talking to their own kids about bullies. 

What if my child is the victim of bullying?

A recent article in Parenting magazine offered the following 3 Step process for parents:

Step One: Find out what's going on.  Get the facts and reassure your child that you will both work together on a solution.

Step Two: Help your child figure out how to respond.  Some responses include:

  •  Stand tall and act brave
  •  Ignore the bully
  •  Stick with friends
  •  Tell an Adult

Step Three:  Take action yourself.  Set up a meeting with the teacher, parent, or caregiver. 

What if my child's friend is the bully?

One of the hardest things for a child to learn is how to stand up for what's right, even in the face of possible scrutiny or embarassment. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services has a kid-friendly website called Stop Bullying Now that features info, games, quizzes, and webisodes all designed to address the issues of bullying , offer meaningful discussion starters, and help promote positive ways of combatting this childhood problem.  Check out this video featuring the character Melanie and her struggle with a friend who is a known bully.

What if my child is the bully?

It can sometimes be hard to tell if childhood squabbles are simply "kids being kids" or if there is a more serious problem.  

Stop Bullying Now offers the following advice to parents:

  • Make it clear to your child that you take bullying seriously and that you will not tolerate this behavior.
  • Develop clear and consistent rules within your family for your children's behavior. Praise and reinforce your children for following rules and use non-physical, non hostile consequences for rule violations.
  • Spend more time with your child and carefully supervise and monitor his or her activities. Find out who your child's friends are and how and where they spend free time.
  • Build on your child's talents by encouraging him or her to get involved in prosocial activities (such as clubs, music lessons, nonviolent sports).
  • Share your concerns with your child's teacher, counselor, or principal. Work together to send clear messages to your child that his or her bullying must stop.
  • If you or your child needs additional help, talk with a school counselor or mental health professional.

The Children's Library also offers some great books for both children and parents on the subject of bullying.  These are a few of our favorites: