Jordan Lewis, Bart Palosz, Eric Mohat, Joel Morales, Rebecca Sedwick have at least one thing in common: They died as a result of being bullied.
Bullying is not a harmless playground rite-of-passage. It is extremely serious and has the potential to destroy many lives.
Rebecca Sedwick, the 12-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide in September, was bullied by as many as 15 of her classmates.
How can a parent help her child avoid a similar fate? Or stop a child who bullies?
Consider these suggestions.
If your child is bullied:
- Be his unfailing supporter.
- Make sure he gets a clear message that he is lovable and worthy of respect, and always be there for him.
- Talk with the teacher or the school counselor, and bring your child to a meeting if he is willing.
- Follow up to find out what steps were taken, and check in with your child.
- Be willing to take action with professional mediation, legal means, changing classes or schools. Don’t stop until you are happy with the results.
- Be watchful for signs of depression and anxiety, and get professional help immediately if you see them.
If your child is the bully:
- Approach her with compassion.
- Be her supporter but do not support her behavior.
- Look for underlying causes and address them.
- Teach empathy and have compassion for the victim.
- Set clear limits. Remove whatever means she is using to bully, including phone and computer.
- Make agreements on behavior and set clear consequences. Monitor regularly.
- Get teachers and school counselors involved.
- Be willing to engage in professional mediation.
- Find a way for her to make amends.
- Get professional support for yourself if you are struggling. Having a child who is a bully is upsetting. Your child needs you to be firm.
- Have your child evaluated by a knowledgeable professional and be willing to invest in counseling.