Child Bullies: Professional Help May Be Needed

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.