Do you have a child who is the target of one or more bullies? Don’t give up hope. There are proactive steps that you can take to help bully-proof your child. Read through this check-list to make certain you have explored every avenue.
Is your child contributing to the problem or solution?
This section is not about blaming the victim; however, are there aspects about your child that are contributing to the problem rather than the solution?
Young people bully others for all kinds of reasons. Some of those reasons are things that cannot be changed. There are many characteristics that your child cannot change or cannot quickly change.
For example, he or she could be ridiculed due to being a male or female. That is something that cannot be changed.
Besides gender, here are some other issues that sometimes invite ridicule.
* weight (Gaining or losing weight is often not a quick fix.)
* skin color and racial affiliation
* eye color (Eye color doesn’t change unless he or she uses color contacts.)
* hair color (Hair color doesn’t change unless he or she uses hair dye.)
* vision (He or she might have to wear glasses or contacts.)
* Is your child part of the Special Education program with one or more disabilities?
* economic circumstances (Your home economic situation is not something easily changed.)
* sexual orientation: straight or gay
On the other hand, there are some things open to change that your child may be doing that could invite or provoke bullying. Scrutinize your child to make certain that he or she is not prone to any of these conditions.
Checklist for parents:
1. Hygiene: Does your child practice good hygiene?
a. Deodorant ‘” Definitely by fifth or sixth grade, your child should be using deodorant. If your child has a body odor, this could invite bullying. Make certain the deodorant is appropriate to his or her gender.
b. Daily showers or baths ‘” Your child should take a daily bath or shower. If that is not possible, urge your child to wash thoroughly between his or her legs, under his or her arms, and the bottom of his or her feet. Girls going through puberty might be subject to projecting a feminine odor that others could find unpleasant. Boys also could have a bad odor as well. If this is not taken care of, this could invite bullying.
c. Clean hair ‘” Make certain that your child washes his or her hair often enough that there is not an unpleasant smell emanating from the scalp or an oily look to the hair. Otherwise, this could invite bullying.
d. Clean teeth and good breath ‘” Make certain your child brushes his or her teeth before going to school. You might also want to provide him or her with a portable toothbrush, breath spray, or breath mints so that he or she is not made fun of for having bad breath or food stuck between the teeth. This could be especially important should he or she wear braces that are often prone to getting food stuck in the wires.
e. Clean clothes ‘” Make certain that the clothes your child wears to school are clean and clean-smelling. Otherwise, this could invite bullying.
f. Acne ‘” Acne is not something easily changed; however, try to provide your child appropriate facial washes that could help minimize the number of pimples he or she gets as acne invites ridicule.
For further reading: Tip #9 to avoid bullying: Practice good hygiene
2. Social skills
Read this article to determine how your child rates when it comes to social skills.
Tip #10 to avoid bullying: Practice your social skills
The article covers the following points:
a. Displaying good etiquette
b. One person talks at a time since nobody likes to be interrupted
c. Use the right volume when you speak
d. Talking speed and tone of voice
e. Don’t get inside another person’s bubble
f. Make sincere apologies
g. Return borrowed items
h. Don’t monopolize other people’s attention
i. What we can learn from alpha, beta, and omega wolves
j. Practicing good social skills helps you foster stronger friendships
k. Practicing bad social skills invite the attention of bullies
More on Appearance
Some young people are ridiculed due to the caliber of clothes and shoes that he or she wears. It is not always economically feasible to provide your child with clothes and shoes that cost an excessive amount in the hopes of promoting his or her social status. On the other hand, you can make certain that he or she is wearing clothes that are at least in style.
For example, don’t dress your middle school child in clothes that would be more appropriate for a young child or an older person. Make certain the clothes they do wear are gender-appropriate as to do otherwise could invite ridicule.
Make certain that should your child wear make-up or jewelry, it is appropriate for his or her age.
Make certain that your child’s hair style is in keeping with his or her age mates. We all have “bad hair days,” but try to make certain that his or her hair style is as flattering as possible.
Create a Paper Trail and other important steps for Parents
Quoting from a past article of mine called “Info 101: What can the parents of the victim of bullying do,” here are some important suggestions for parents of a child who is the target of bullying.
1. The parents of the victims of bullying needs to take steps. The victim of bullying and his or her parents need to create a paper trail. They should document the date, place, time, and details of every incident of bullying. They should also document the date, place, time, and contact person of every person they contacted to try to stop the bullying. That way, they have written proof of what has taken place and the people who chose to acknowledge or ignore their cries for help. Polk County prepared a PDF download form that you could use as a guide when documenting each incident. If your child is not part of Polk County, simply cross that line out and replace with the name of your child’s school district. If you upload the Microsoft version, you can change the words directly. Here are the two links:
* PDF – HARASSMENT OR BULLYING REPORTING FORM
* Microsoft Word – HARASSMENT OR BULLYING REPORTING FORM
The parents should personally visit the teachers at the school and the principal to alert them to the bullying that is taking place. That way, the school staff cannot later try to suggest they had no knowledge about the bullying.
* Jim Higgins, an attorney, suggests that the parents should “follow-up with certified letters or emails to the principal of the school, school board members, and the superintendent. Include the full names of the bullies, what the bully or bullies did, and the date the incident occurred. Request a response and a plan of action.”
2. As a parent, find out what policies the school has in place to deal with bullies. If they do not have a bully policy, request that the PTA or community groups get involved to fund a program dealing with ways to deal with bullies.
3. Request that the guidance counselor, school social worker, or school psychologist get involved holding sessions with the victim of bullying. The guidance counselor should also meet with the identified bullies, one-on-one. It might even be helpful to have the leader of the mob and his or her target meet with either the guidance counselor or a trained mediator to try to work out a way for the bullying to no longer take place.
4. The parents can also request that the administrator calls in the parents of the bully or bullies and have a group meeting to try to address the issues. The parents of the victim of bullying should also attend this meeting. There is, of course, the risk, that this will escalate the efforts of the bullies as they attempt to seek retaliation. Therefore, the administrator should take steps to make certain that there is little or no opportunity for the bully or bullies to get their revenge.
5. Reach out to the parents of the identified bullies to try to elicit their help.
6. If no constructive action is taken by the school, a Letter to the Editor could be written to your local paper to elicit help to fund anti-bullying programs in each school and resource officers assigned to every middle school and high school.
7. If the bullying is really serious, the parents should call the police. If your school does not already have a resource officer working at your school, strive to meet with the school board to help fund getting a resource officer working at each school.
8. If you suspect cyber bullying, get the police to trace the e-mails and social networks for IP addresses.
9. It is possible that your child is clinically depressed and/or entertaining ideas about suicide due to the bullying. It is not that your child really wants to die. It is more a factor that he or she does not want to have to face even one more day of being bullied. It is vital you get a trained therapist to help your child feel less isolated and alone.
10. The PTA should do fundraisers to fund anti-bullying training at the school.
11. Check with community clubs such as Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, or Ruritan Club to help provide financial backing for anti-bullying training at each school in the community.
12. Check with churches, temples, mosques, and other spiritual organizations to help provide financial backing for anti-bullying training at each school in the community. Also, ask them to start prayer chains to help support the victim of bullying and to change the heart and mind of the bully or bullies doing the bullying.
13. If the bullying is taking place on a school bus, try to find an alternative travel method for your child. Either make arrangements to drive your child to and from school or get a trusted neighbor or family member to chauffeur your child to and from school.
14. Check to see if your child’s school hasa Peer Mediation program. If so, then your child and the bully or bullies could sit down and try to talk through their differences with the goal of coming up with a WIN-WIN solution that would be pleasing to both.
For further information, please read “Conducting a Peer Mediation Program in your School”
Quoting from a past article of mine called “Info 101: What can the School do to help prevent Bullying,” here are a few other important suggestions for parents of a child who is the target of bullying. They could work with the school to get some or all of these ideas activated.
15. Check with your local universities to see if they can send volunteers to conduct anger management training at your school for identified bullies. The victims of bullying might need separate training to deal with the emotions inherent in being bullied on a continual basis. Perhaps a psychology or social worker graduate students could step in.
16. As a part of any anti-bullying program, make certain the students understand that bullying is not to be tolerated. Have a clear set of consequences to bullying in place so that there is no ambiguity. Your job, as a parent, is to find out what those consequences are. Meet with the principal about your child. Ask the principal to conduct a thorough investigation of the child or children bullying your child.
17. As a part of any anti-bullying programs, make certain the students also know that there is a difference between tattling and responsible reporting. Tattling is when you purposely try to get another person in trouble for petty reasons or for the purposes of revenge. Responsible Reporting is when you reach out to an adult figure with a problem where your own safety or the safety of another is at risk. In that case, telling is not tattling. It is doing the right thing as opposed to the easy thing.
18. Set up an Anonymous Box where students can write up events of bullying they have witnessed without having their name being revealed. Encourage the writers to list the date, time, and location of the bullying incident. Emphasize the importance of listing the first and last names of each student taking part in this incident. Mandate that there are staff members who are appointed to check this box at the end of every school day. That way, each alleged event of bullying can be investigated as soon as possible. Understandably, there may be some students who will write out bogus events to make trouble for someone or to gain attention in some way. Nevertheless, look for common denominators in the reported incidents. Is the same bully or bullies being mentioned more than once? Is the same person being targeted again and again?
19. If possible, get cameras set up at your school that monitors hallways, the cafeteria, buses, the front walkway into school, the front entrance of the school, and other locations within your school where bullying might have a chance to take place. Have a member of the Safety Committee or other school personnel regularly monitor this footage.
20. Stress the importance of all teachers standing in the doorway of their classrooms between classes. Those teachers need to monitor the actions of their students within the classroom and in the hallway.
21. Identified bullies should be escorted to classes rather than being allowed to walk on their own.
22. Since a lot of bullying takes place in gym locker rooms and bathrooms, it might be advisable to have a female resource office or female teacher or staff member posted in the female locker rooms and a male resource office or male teacher or staff member posted in the male locker rooms.
23. If your school is short-staffed, reach out to trusted members of the community who might have the necessary will and skills to help monitor the hallways and locker rooms of your school. Make certain these community members are bonded and are safe to be around young people. You certainly don’t want to get the help of any person identified in causing willful harm to your students or of being a child molester.
24. Check with elderly people who might wish to visit your school as an “adoptive grandmother” or “adoptive grandfather” to the victims of bullying. Perhaps they could come once a week to eat lunch with this individual.
25. Check to see if there are volunteers who can play the role of a “big brother” or “big sister” to the victims of bullying. Perhaps they could come once a week to eat lunch with this individual.
26. See if there are staff members or a social worker graduate student who would be willing to sponsor a before school or after school club where the victims of bullying could network together. Perhaps open membership up to students who have been a bystander to bullying incidents. Perhaps some of them would be brave enough to reach out in friendship to some or all of the victims.
27. Set up a student mentor program. Appoint responsible and caring students in your school to become a “buddy” to each new student who enrolls in your school. This buddy will help them find their classes, learn about clubs they might wish to join, show them how the lunch system works so that they are sure to know how to get lunch on the first few days, and invite them to sit with their group at lunch for at least a week or two while the new student is getting adjusted. The buddy can also introduce the new student around so that he or she gets a chance to start making friends.
28. Reward students for displaying acts of kindness to others. If your school mascot is a Tiger, perhaps you could print out Tiger bucks. If your school mascot is the Hawks, print out Hawk bucks. Give the teachers a stack of these bucks. When they see students in the classroom, hallway, or lunch room reaching out to another student in kindness and a sincere desire to help, award them with a Tiger Buck or a Hawk Buck. Have a set of small prizes or awards they can redeem these bucks for at the beginning of each week for the previous week. Awards could be stickers, candy, a free homework pass in a certain class, a get-out-of-being tardy one-time pass, a congratulatory phone call or e-mail to the parent or person of the student’s choice, etc.
29. If a bully has been identified displaying bullying behaviors on the bus, it would be best to restrict or suspend his or her bus-riding ability. Let his or her parents know that they will have to make other arrangements to get their child to and from school.
30. If a student is caught in the act of making fun of mentally challenged students, assign the bully to spend a day in that class to help the students out or one period a day for the period of a week or two. Naturally, this needs to be closely monitored and supervised so that the bully doesn’t create further harm. The goal would be for the bully to gain empathy for these students. If so, it is unlikely he or she will be quite so ready to make fun of a mentally challenged student again.
31. If your school has recess or free periods outside during the lunch hour, have pairs of Student Safety Monitors appointed who will patrol the playground on the alert for any bullying-type behavior or student conflicts. If so, the pair of Safety Monitors will then strive to mediate the conflict. The pair of Safety Monitors, armed with a clipboard each and a pen, will get each student in conflict to tell his or her side of the story. They will then strive to find a WIN-WIN Outcome where both disputants feel good about the outcome. If they are unsuccessful or they run out of time in mediating the conflict, then the two disputants will be sent to the office or a guidance counselor for adult mediation to take place as soon as possible. Both students in the dispute should sign the documentation document.
32. If your school does not already have a Safety Committee, put one in place. Be aware that some victims of bullying implode by getting physically sick, clinically depressed, or entertaining and tragically sometimes following through on suicidal ideations. Other victims of bullying explode by bringing a gun to school. The personnel of each school should have a plan in place lest we have a repeat of tragic events such as what happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999.
Will fighting help?
Some students who are victims of bullying might wish to resort to having a physical fight with the perpetrator of the bullying actions. Does this ever help?
When it comes to boys, there are some boys who appear to become better acquaintances or even friends once they have “proved their manhood,” so to speak. Unfortunately, getting in a fight can backfire in a number of ways.
Many schools have a zero tolerance for fighting. The combatants get suspended and sometimes expelled, should the injuries sustained during the fight be severe enough. Also, sometimes victims of bullying take their fighting to the next level by bringing a gun or knife to school. This could permanently ruin their lives and the lives of others.
When it comes to girls, they often hold grudges for years. Even if the perpetrator of bullying gets bested in this one fight, she could find all kinds of hurtful ways to get revenge such as cyberbullying and getting her friends and loyal followers to wage a hate campaign upon the victim of bullying.
Fighting could also cause law enforcement to get involved in such a way that the paper trail the parent has very carefully tried to create will now become null and void. The parent will find that the law will turn against his or her child instead of being his or her advocate.
So physically fighting is not the answer. That is an act of terrorism that has the potential to create a whole new set of problems.
What can the victim of bullying do?
Quoting from a past article of mine called “Info 101: What can the victim of bullying do,” here are some other important suggestions for the parents of a child who is the target of bullying.
1. The victims of bullying should take steps to help themselves not act like a victim to the best of their ability. See the tips and techniques listed later on in this article for suggestions.
2. The victims of bullying should tell their parents or guardians what has been happening.
3. The victims of bullying need to tell an adult. If one adult can’t help, tell another and another and another until you find someone who is capable of helping. Some adults who might be able to help are a parent, teacher, coach, guidance counselor, school social worker, school psychologist, assistant principal, principal, community center manager, clergy of some type, relative, neighbor, etc.
4. The victims of bullying can join a club or a group who might become allies. The victims also might wish to join a church, temple, mosque, or some other religious or spiritual organization to gain prayers and support.
5. Be aware that there are many people who can help and who care what happens to you. If you need extra support or find yourself thinking about suicide, call one of the Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotlines listed below. Check out the link listed under #12 especially for the very important words written by a young person who decided against suicide and got the help he or she needed.
Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotlines
* There are free on-line support groups (see the resource section at the end of this article) and crisis and suicide prevention hotlines (see directly below) for victims of bullies and for the parents of those victims:
1. 24 Hour Parent Support Line at (1-888-281-3000): The Parent Support Line is a program of The Effort, a multi-service agency in CA – offers 24hr emotional support to parents (and anyone else involved with children of all ages) who are in crisis or in need of a little support, as well as exploring resources that may be available for additional support. We can take calls from anywhere in the US.
2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-SUICIDE
3. Teen 2 Teen Hotline at (714) New-Teen or (714)639-8336 between 5 pm & 9 pm.
4. YSPP ‘” Youth Suicide Prevention Program. For immediate help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
5. National Youth Crisis Hotline: 800-442-HOPE (4673). Provides counseling and referrals to local drug treatment centers, shelters, and counseling services. Responds to youth dealing with pregnancy, molestation, suicide, and child abuse. Operates 24 hours, seven days a week.
6. Covenant House Nineline at 1-800-999-9999. Kids can call their hotline 2 pm to 12 am EST seven days a week for hlpe with problems you are facing.
7. National Suicide Hot Line: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). If you – or someone you know – is having thoughts of suicide: …please know that we are not able to monitor this Web site for crisis messages, nor are we qualified to handle a crisis call. The Safer Child Web site should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from your doctor, lawyer or mental health professional. If this is an emergency, please contact your local crisis center or call 1-800-Suicide (1-800-784-2433).
8. Boys Town National Hotline – 1-800-448-3000. The Boys Town National Hotline offers free counseling 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Trained counselors provide kids and teens help, hope and healing. Call us or contact us any time, any day.
9. 24-hour Parent Support Line on Facebook. Call 1-888-281-3000 to reach the 24hr Parent Support Line. Counselors are available to listen and explore resources with you as needed. Parenting isn’t always easy- sometimes parents just need to talk…and we’re here to listen.
10. United States National Suicide & Crisis Hotlines Resource Page. Crisis Counselors are
waiting for your call.
11. Suicide Hotlines.com ‘” For Suicide Prevention & Emotional Crisis. Scroll down for Hotlines in your state.
12. Words of comfort and guidance from someone who narrowly missed committing suicide. Please read!
If all else fails —
If all else fails, the parent might want to consider removing his or her child from this school and enrolling him or her in a charter school or private school. This may be expensive; however, to be blunt, a funeral would be even more tragic and possibly more expensive. As a parent, it is your job to protect your child. It is vital that you take every possible step to make certain your child’s sense of well-being is preserved.
Other articles and stories that might help
- Info 101: Hub page for It takes a Community to deal with the Mob Mentality of a Gang of Bullies
- Info 101: What does bullying look like?
- Info 101: What can the victim of bullying do?
- Info 101: What can the parents of the victim of bullying do?
- Info 101: What can a Bystander of Bullying do?
- Info 101: What can the School do to help prevent Bullying?
- Conflict Resolution 101: Taking your anti-bullying efforts to the next level
- Tip #1 to avoiding bullying: Use good posture to avoid being a target for bullies
- Tip #2 to avoid bullying: Use good eye contact
- Tip #3 to avoid bullying: Smile and laugh
- Tip #4 to avoid bullying: Practice Deep Breathing
- Tip #5 to avoid bullying: Save your tears for a safe place
- Tip #6 to avoid bullying: Spend time with friends
- Tip #7 to avoid bullying: Practice your talents and skills
- Tip #8 to avoid bullying: Tell an adult you’re being bullied
- Tip #9 to avoid bullying: Practice good hygiene
- Tip #10 to avoid bullying: Practice your social skills
- Tip #11: to avoid mob mentality: Divide and conquer
- Tip #12 to avoid bullying: Self-Mentor rather than getting revenge
- How we perceive a bully makes a difference
- Remember Lane Kiffin’s 2 rules when overcoming bullying
- Lane Kiffin’s penalty policy can benefit bully victims
- How to heal relationships with contrary co-workers, bosses, in-laws, and acquaintances
- Table of Contents – JoJo and the 3 Bully B’s
- Be Bully Free role-play: Squirrel rejects his bushy tail
- Grumpy Grant and Joshua – A composite but fictional story about sometimes tragic results of bullying