About 25 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds say they have been bullied in the past year. Not surprisingly, victims of bullying are often anxious and depressed, but studies show that the bullies or the witnesses of bullying can also be negatively affected.
Parents may feel helpless when their child is being bullied and confused when their child is guilty of bullying others.
Anne Clarkson, digital parenting education specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, offers three tips to parents to help prevent bullying.
- Talk to your child: Even 15 minutes of conversation per day can help prevent bullying. When parents and children talk, children learn strategies for responding to bullying, feel supported and gain confidence. For tips on how to get the conversation started, download a free app by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) called, “KnowBullying.”
- Watch and listen for signs: Bullies and kids who are bullied are unlikely to ask for help. Possible signs of bullying include a child faking illness to stay home from school or suddenly losing interest in friends or homework. Your child is also hurting if he or she is the bully. Bullies may have friends who are bullies; suddenly have new things or more money; or always blame someone else for their problems. Learn more about the signs of bullying at http://www.stopbullying.gov/.
- Be an anti-bullying advocate: Stop bullying as soon as you see it by separating the children involved and getting the facts from all parties (including adults). Support children by talking about the situation and planning a response if the bullying happens again. Also, make sure to respectfully talk to other adults about your concerns about bullying. For example, talk to your child’s teacher privately or talk to other parents and ask them to keep an eye out for bullying.
One of the best ways parents can prevent bullying is by modeling positive relationship skills. When parents show children how to deal with disagreements in a respectful, assertive way, they are giving children important skills for dealing with future conflict.
For more information, contact Anne Clarkson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-206-6317.