By Ivy Bagley
As we are quickly starting the 2019-2020 school year, it is important for families to discuss the potential for bullying with their children. Over 50% of middle schoolers admit to participating in bullying behavior. This behavior can begin as early as preschool and continue throughout adulthood. Bullying is often present in the workforce as well.
It is important for parents to recognize potential issues with bullying and be willing to discuss openly with their child. Children who are bullied will often become controlling, lack empathy, become exclusive in their interactions, or become increasingly concerned with staying or acting popular. They may wish to avoid school when previously they loved attending. Prior to the start of school and throughout the school year, talk to your child about bullying. This opens the doors for children to feel more comfortable in telling an adult if they are being bullied.
Children can be bullied for many reasons but some of the most common are religion, race, weight, disabilities, and medical conditions.
Bullying most often starts with verbal attacks and can progress to physical contact. If your child comes home with mysterious injuries, it is key for parents to explore this further.
Children who are bullied need to know they are believed. They also need to know this is not their fault and they are not the only children who experience bullying. Help them formulate a plan to deal with the bully- and this should include reporting to school officials.
It is most important that we, as adults, model positive behaviors. Children need to see adults showing others care and grace. They need to see parents interacting with people of all abilities. Adults need to model healthy esteem. Children who have a healthy, positive self-esteem are less likely to be bullied and, in fact, are usually quicker to report bullying behaviors.
Take the time to role play with your child. Help them understand how to respond. It is very important for parents to make certain their child knows there is no shame in walking away from a bully or reporting the issue to an adult.
It is key that we have open and honest discussions with our children so they are prepared should they become the victim of bullying.
In a world filled with social media, cyber bullying must also be discussed and addressed. Educate children on online safety and monitor their online interactions. Encourage your child to come to you with any concerns. Talk through the situation and formulate a plan. Help children become “situationally aware” as they begin to utilize the internet more.
Bullying is not acceptable behavior. We must encourage our children to not tolerate this behavior and adults must be receptive to listening when children report bullying. This will allow our kids to have a great 2019-2020 school year.
Several Resources for Bullying:
Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center:
Ms. Bagley, a family nurse practitioner for 12 years, enjoys seeing patients of all ages at Children’s Health Services. She is a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) who works with breastfeeding moms/babies through office visits and their online breastfeeding support group. She recently obtained a Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine. She is an active member in OMA, AANP, ICLA, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and within the community. Recently, she began an online group, “Blessed and Healthy Families,” with the goal of educating families on overall health and well-being. She has a specific focus on obesity. Ms. Bagley owns Creative Blessings Photography and serves many local groups through her photography. She enjoys her family and spending time traveling. Her life verse is “All things work together for those who love The Lord.” Romans 8:28