Parents play a huge role in how their own children respond to bullying situations. Before children are even aware of what bullying is, parents can help them practice ways to prevent it.
Empower your children by displaying empathy, doing random acts of kindness, sticking up for someone being put down, teaching inclusiveness and widening their awareness with real-life or TV incidents of bullying. It's also important to talk through the roles of everyone involved.
Your kids can better help a classmate being bullied when they understand what is going on. It starts with three parties: the bully(s), the bystanders and the victim(s). Some ways to prevent bullying are to:
• Start or join a club against bullying to promote a bully-free school.
• Understand that you cannot blame a victim for not standing up to a bully; a classmate may not have enough self-worth or confidence to ask for help alone.
• Don’t be a follower, laugh at a bully’s actions or turn away. Being passive is not being responsible.
Your kids could be afraid that if they call a bully out, the bully will target them. This does happen at times, but if your child stands silent he or she might also feel like the school environment is not safe. Even witnessing a bully hurt someone can cause anxiety in bystanders. If your child feels confident to help, he or she can:
• Tell the bully to stop, say “come on, let’s go” or “that’s not cool” and walk away with the victim.
• In the presence of an adult, tell the bully or even the followers of the bully how they hurt someone.
• Be stronger in numbers and walk beside a classmate being bullied.
• Keep an eye out for cyber-bullying over the school computers or other technology allowed at school, and screen shot it for administration to see.
• Enlist the help of a teacher, school counselor or resource officer if you need back up — especially if you feel standing up would put you in danger.
If classmates who are bystanders do nothing at all, sometimes bullying victims feel even more betrayed because now two different parties have betrayed them. Take the time to talk to your children at a young age about this. School should be a safe environment for all children.
Laura Kelley, crisis counselor for the Boys Town National Hotline and the Nebraska Family Helpline, wrote this guest blog for momaha.com. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and her Masters in Early Childhood. She is a former preschool teacher in the Omaha Community. She has three boys and lives with her husband of 25 years in Omaha. Learn more about the Boys Town National Hotline by clicking here.